Professor Jan Bebbington, Director of the Pentland Centre for Sustainability in Business

I trained as an accountant and was thrilled and amazed to find out that I could combine my professional skills with my desire to work towards the protection of the natural environment. My own PhD was on accounts of (non-financial reporting) and accounting for (full cost accounting) sustainable development.

I still work on the intersection between accounting tools/techniques and social/environmental issues: now captured under the Sustainable Development Goals. I also have the pleasure to be the Director of the Pentland Centre for Sustainability in Business where I support colleagues and PhD students (from across the University) who research business and sustainability intersections. At the same time, researching and understanding the world is not sufficient for me, I also want to change the world. To do this I work alongside businesses as well as professional accounting bodies.

The PhD projects I am/have supervised reflect these interests and include:

  • Integrating the SDGs into continuing professional accounting education
  • The links between tax havens, hidden beneficial ownership of companies and environmental damage
  • The extent to which stock exchanges are able to capture ecological risk through their listing requirements and the different levels of ecological risk on different exchanges (through the company mix that are listed on them)

Of course, these are just some of the wide array of PhD projects that are possible and your own ideas on projects that connect sustainability concerns and business (with a link to accounting – conceived of in its broadest sense) would be of interest to me. I am currently very keen to better understand ‘modern slavery’ reporting and whether it reduced harm to people in supply chains; ideas of stewardship for natural resources and how this could be accounted for; as well as the norms emerging from various disclosure regulations for companies and investors. In examining these issues, I use mainly qualitative methods. Be in touch should you find that array of ideas interesting and exciting.