Obituary

Ted O'Leary 1950-2014

It is with great sadness that we have learned of the sudden and premature passing of Ted O’Leary. With this, we have lost a true scholar and a very kind man. Our thoughts are with his wife Catherine, his daughters Susan and Jill, and their partners.

Ted O’Leary was Professor of Accounting, University of Manchester, since 2001. He was also Adjunct Professor of Accounting, University of Michigan, since 2002.  Prior to that, he was Associate Professor of Accounting, National University of Ireland, Cork, from 1991 to 2001, and Assistant Professor of Accountancy, University of Illinois, 1986 to 1991. Ted was a Fellow of the Institute of Chartered Accountants, Ireland, he gained an MBA from University of Dublin (Trinity College) in 1975, and a PhD from the University of Warwick in 1983. He was a visitor at London Business School, 1982-3, where he met his long-term collaborator Peter Miller.

Ted helped transform the discipline of accounting, and he did so from his unusual dual positions which straddled the Atlantic. He achieved this in part through analysing it as an organisational and social practice. But he did so also by the very high standards he brought to fieldwork. His assiduous attention to detail resulted in a number of landmark papers, in journals as diverse as Accounting, Organizations and Society, Cultural Values, the Journal of Accounting Research, Science in Context, and the Academy of Management Review.

Ted looked at accounting from both the inside and the outside. From the inside, he was genuinely interested in managers and management. He focused on how things worked and were made operational in managerial worlds, long before something called ‘practice theory’ became fashionable. Yet, as an outsider, he was also far from being merely descriptive and a slave to the categories and discourses of practice.  Indeed, he paid meticulous attention to how accounting interacted with other disciplines, whether engineering, organisation design, or microelectronics, and had a keen sense of organisational and practical complexity in contrast to the usual tropes of management knowledge.

Ted will be deeply and sorely missed, by his family and close friends, and by many that will be touched by his passing. He will be missed too for the gentle persistence and collegiality he continued to bring to the academy, at a time when such values are being eroded.

 Tributes 

 

 

Dr Christopher Paul Bircher 1956-2012

It is with great sadness that we report Paul’s death.  Paul was a highly skilled professional accountant, a talented scholar, and finally an accomplished and qualified nurse.  He also had a sharp wit that could reduce a room full of people to tears of laughter.

Paul was born a Yorkshire lad on 8th June 1956 in Doncaster Hospital to Stan and Beryl Bircher. After spending his first six years in the UK with his younger sister, Christine, his family moved to Kenya which was home for much of the next 16 years.  His brother Andrew was born in Nairobi. 

Paul won a scholarship to board at Repton.  On leaving, he considered going into social work, but finally chose accounting.  He went on to gain a first class honours degree in Accounting and Finance at Manchester University, followed by an MA. He started his working life at Arthur Young McClelland Moore in 1979, where he qualified as a chartered accountant and was a rising young star for five years. 

Academic life then called him back.  He studied for a Ph.D, which he gained in 1989 under the watchful eye of Anthony Hopwood.  From 1986 to 1989, Paul was a Lecturer in Accounting and Finance at the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE).  Subsequently, he became a Visiting Assistant Professor at the London Business School, where he had started his doctoral studies, and later he was appointed as a Senior Visiting Fellow at LSE.

His thesis was titled: ‘From the Companies Act of 1929 to the Companies Act of 1948’.  This was a meticulous historical study of the changes in law and accounting practice during this period, culminating in the 1948 legislation. Such work is highly challenging, and contributes greatly to our understanding of how accounting changes, and what influences such changes.  The work coming out of this study remains a reference point in the literature today.  The thesis was subsequently published as a book.  In the meantime, from 1994 to 2000 he worked again for the newly merged Ernst & Young.

In 1998, Paul married Janette in Paris.  In 2000, he moved to Croissy-sur-Seine, just outside Paris, with step-son Theo and Janette. He returned briefly to an accountancy post in Paris, and continued his passion for walking.  It was in fact one such walk – a pilgrimage from Dieppe to Santiago de Compostela – that led him to change the direction of his life fundamentally.  When he returned from this journey in 2004, he started a physiotherapy course.  He then went into nursing, which was to be his last and final passion.  He qualified as a nurse in 2009, and knew that being a ward nurse was not for him.  He went straight to the trauma area, and worked in one of the busiest A&E departments in the UK at North Middlesex Hospital.  Through his nursing and volunteering with St Johns Ambulance, he was able to give vent to his kind, generous and caring nature. 

Paul set off for one more pilgrimage in September 2011, a journey he was sadly not to complete. 

He is survived by his wife Janette, his stepson Theo, his mother Beryl and stepfather Archie, his brother Andrew and sister Christine.  He also leaves behind many close friends and colleagues whose lives he touched and enriched.  He will be deeply missed by all who knew him.

Anthony Hopwood 1944-2010

10 May 2010  

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It is with great sadness that we have learned of the passing of Anthony Hopwood. With this, we have lost a truly outstanding figure. 

Anthony Hopwood was Ernst and Young Professor of International Accounting and Financial Management at LSE from 1985 to 1995. On leaving LSE, he went to Oxford as Professor of Management Studies, and in 1999 was appointed Dean of the Saïd Business School, a position which he held until October 2006. 

Anthony transformed the discipline of accounting, by suggesting that it be examined not as a neutral technical phenomenon, but as an organizational and social practice that itself had an impact on the world. He wrote many of the seminal papers and books of the discipline, and was always ahead of his time. 

He is perhaps best known within academic circles for his founding position as Editor in Chief of Accounting, Organizations and Society, a role he held from 1976 to 2009. It is difficult, in retrospect, to appreciate the innovative intellectual position the journal adopted from its inception. It helped constitute an entirely new body of research. The journal is now ranked among the top four accounting journals in the world. 

Anthony's own research has been enormously influential, stimulating the creation of a major body of interdisciplinary research investigating the roles of accounting in organizations and society. His PhD at the University of Chicago examined empirically the use of accounting information in performance evaluation within firms. Informed by a mix of social psychology and the sociology of groups, that study stimulated a body of research on accounting and performance measurement that continues today. In the 1980s, Anthony extended his research interests to examine the roles of accounting in institutions and society. This gave accounting an even firmer social science foundation, for it demonstrated the important links between accounting change and wider social developments. 

Anthony's enthusiasm and inventiveness were not limited to his own prolific and influential research and publications. He made an outstanding contribution to the building of a wide range of accounting and management institutions in Europe and the UK. He played a major role at a number of prestigious British universities, most notably Manchester Business School, London Business School, the London School of Economics and Political Science, and the Saïd Business School. 

Recognising the importance of a Europe-wide forum for accounting research – at a time when such an idea was novel – he actively participated in the European Institute of Advanced Studies in Management, and for a number of years served as its President. He was a founder of the European Accounting Association, and played a major role – including that of President – throughout its over thirty year history. He was also very active in the formation and management of the European Accounting Review, and he played a highly influential role in the development of doctoral education within accounting. He promoted and encouraged networks of junior researchers, and was very active in the doctoral colloquium for the European Accounting Association.

Anthony was a passionate defender of intellectual enquiry and diversity, something that is particularly important and challenging in contexts where such values are not always shared. Most recently, he wrote about the dangers of careerism, over-specialization, and an inward-looking approach to accounting and management education. He was also highly critical of the increasing pre-occupation with research rankings, and the crude quantification that this often depends on. 

Anthony's achievements have been recognized by many awards. In 1998, he was voted Distinguished Academic of the Year by the British Accounting Association. In 2001 and 2008, he was given Lifetime Achievement Awards by sections of the American Accounting Association. In 2005, he was the recipient of the Leadership award of the European Accounting Association, and in 2006 he served as the Presidential Scholar of the American Accounting Association. He was elected to the USA's Accounting Hall of Fame in 2008, and also received the American Accounting Association's 2008 Notable Contribution to the Management Accounting Literature Award. He holds honorary doctorates from universities in Denmark, Finland, Italy, Sweden and the United Kingdom. 

In recent years, Anthony extended his life-long interest in design and architecture, and was appointed by HRH the Prince of Wales as Chairman of the Prince's Foundation for the Built Environment. In this capacity, he worked with the Prince and the Chief Executive of the Foundation on issues of urban design.

It is difficult to imagine the discipline of accounting without Anthony. He will, however, continue to influence it profoundly through his writings, through those that he taught, through those that wrote and worked with him, and through all those that recognize the fundamental importance of analyzing accounting as an organizational and social practice.  

 Tributes

Professor Harold Edey, 1913-2007

The Department of Accounting was saddened to learn of the death of Emeritus Professor Harold Edey on 12 March 2007.

Harold Edey qualified as a Chartered Accountant in 1935 and, after War service in the Navy and a period as an investment analyst, he joined the London School of Economics (LSE) as Lecturer in Accounting in 1949. He became Reader in Accounting in 1955 and Professor of Accounting in 1962-80. He was the School's first Pro-Director in 1967. He was also responsible for developing one of the first Masters courses in Accounting in Britain, which is now the Masters in Accounting and Finance, the largest MSc programme in the School. A uniquely large proportion of British Professors of Accounting have been Harold's students at some point in their careers, and he made a point of encouraging young Chartered Accountants, including those like himself who had not attended university as full-time undergraduates, to enter academic Accounting.

Harold was the first academic member of the Council of the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales (ICAEW), from 1969-1980, where he won respect through his service, communicating academic ideas to accountants in practice and industry. He was a member of the original Accounting Standards Steering Committee in the 1970s (the predecessor of today's ASB). In 1987, he was awarded the ICAEW's Founding Societies' Award for his contribution to accounting research and higher education. He was elected as an honorary member of the Worshipful Company of  Chartered Accountants in England & Wales.

Harold played a wider role in administration and educational developments beyond the University of London and the LSE. He was involved in the formative years of the Association of University Teachers of Accounting, which later became the British Accounting Association (BAA). The BAA awarded him its Lifetime Achievement Award in 2004. At the London Graduate School of Business Studies (now the London Business School) he was a member of the Academic Planning Board and a Governor. He was also Chairman of the Arts and Social Studies Committee of the CNAA and member of the Council, which recognised his contribution to higher education and to the discipline of accounting by conferring on him the degree of Doctor of Laws, honoris causa. He was an academic adviser to the independent University College of Buckingham (now the University of Buckingham) from its early days. He retired from LSE in 1980. Between 1980 and 1995 he was an Honorary Professor at the University College of Wales, Aberystwyth, while retaining a connection at the LSE. His interest in Celtic languages led to his learning Welsh and Cornish and his election as a Bard of the Cornish Gorseth (named Pedr An Mor) in 1933.

Harold's major academic interest was in financial accounting and reporting, its economic rationale and relationship to financial management, and the history of its interaction with the law. He also wrote about National Income accounting. His seminal papers included 'Accounting Principles and Business Reality' (reprinted from Accountancy 1963 in Carsberg & Edey (eds.) Modern Financial Management, Penguin, 1969); 'The Nature of Profit' (Accounting and Business Research, 1970); 'Deprival Value and Financial Accounting' (in Edey & Yamey (eds.) Debits, Credits, Finance and Profits, Sweet & Maxwell, 1974). He published several books and his major papers are collected in Edey, H.C., Accounting Queries (New York & London: Garland, 1982). A festschrift in his honour, External Financial Reporting (LSE/Prentice-Hall), was edited by Professors Bryan Carsberg and Susan Dev in 1984.

His funeral was held at Worthing Crematorium on Monday 26 March 2007. Donations in his memory for educational purposes may be made (and gift-aided) to CALC (the General Charitable Trust of the Worshipful Company of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales: www.wccaew.org.uk).

Professor W.T. Baxter, 1906-2006 

Celebrating the Work of an Accounting Great: Professor W.T. Baxter

A Symposium was held at LSE on Saturday 15 July 2006 to celebrate the work of Professor W.T. Baxter, CA, Emeritus Professor of Accounting at LSE. Professor Baxter, the first full-time Professor of Accounting in Great Britain, sadly died on 8 June 2006, just short of his 100th birthday. He was a highly respected and greatly loved teacher, colleague and friend, and the Symposium was a fitting tribute to his achievements as an academic and as an individual. Around 100 former students, colleagues, and members of Professor Baxter's family spent the day listening to presentations by academics and practitioners, who celebrated his significant contributions to accounting theory in areas such as deprival value and the measurement standards applied to accounting, which have led to current developments in accounting standards.

The Symposium opened with a keynote address by Professor Christopher Napier (University of Southampton) who provided an engaging insight into the 'History of Accounting at LSE' over the last hundred years. Professor Baxter's contribution to the School and the development of accounting as a discipline was situated in the context of the School's emerging focus on economic approaches to analysing business issues. Professor Baxter was central to developing undergraduate and postgraduate teaching in this newly-emerging academic discipline that recognised the business needs of the profession, but provided students with a rigorous and theoretically sound basis for understanding how businesses work. This is a tradition that continues at LSE today, with the Department of Accounting focusing on providing the intellectual training and theoretical understanding of accounting as a discipline, leaving the professional accounting firms to train graduates on the practical, number-crunching exercises that form part of a young accountant's daily life.

Following Professor Napier's keynote address, the first session of the Symposium focused on Professor Baxter's theory of deprival value. The practitioner perspective on this concept was provided by Sir Ian Byatt (Past Director General of the Office of Water Services) and Peter Holgate (Senior Technical Partner, PricewaterhouseCoopers). Sir Ian illustrated its use in nationalised and privatised utilities in the UK, and showed how it was critical to setting an initial regulatory capital value. Peter Holgate examined deprival value and its use in current cost accounting and the setting of accounting standards. Professor Michael Bromwich (LSE) then gave an academic view of deprival value, its relationship to other prominent academic accounting theories of current value, and the importance of this concept to the Sandilands Committee and the Accounting Standards Committee.

The afternoon session examined the research importance of Professor Baxter's work, looking at how it had been used in the past, and its relevance today. Professor Shyam Sunder (Yale University and President of the American Accounting Association) looked at Professor Baxter's contribution to the accounting standards debate, and discussed how Professor Baxter was one of the first academics to recognise and articulate the negative consequences of authoritative measurement standards on the accounting profession. Dr Joanne Horton (LSE) described how the concepts of deprival value are still central to the teaching of financial reporting by pointing to the relevance of this work to standard setters obsessed with 'fair value'. The session concluded with a presentation by Professor Ken Peasnell (Lancaster University) who examined where deprival value is today and its role in contemporary financial reporting and potentially again in inflation accounting. Professor Richard Macve (LSE) gave the concluding overview.

Leading figures from both sides of the Atlantic gave oral reminiscences of working with Will. One of the highlights of the day was a presentation made to Mrs Leena Baxter by Emeritus Professor of Economics, Basil Yamey, one of Will's oldest colleagues and friends, who he met in South Africa, and who subsequently became an LSE colleague. Mrs Baxter was presented with a bound book of reminiscences, contributed by people who were Will's students, colleagues and friends. The reminiscences showed the warmth with which former students remembered their teacher and the respect in which he was held by his students and former colleagues. The book of reminiscences can be read here. The second highlight was the informal reminiscences provided by a number of alumni during the lunchtime reception. The memories shared by these former students reminded all of the participants of Will Baxter's unique nature, his sense of humour and his keen intellectual engagement with accounting history, theory and practice.

The Symposium was jointly and generously sponsored by LSE, the British Accounting Association, the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales, and the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Scotland (where Professor Baxter trained as a Chartered Accountant). 

The intellectual contributions of the day have now been collected and edited by Professor Pauline Weetman (Strathclyde University) and will appear in the September 2007 edition of Accounting and Business Research (Vol. 37, No. 2) under the title 'Comments on deprival value and standard setting in measurement: from a symposium to celebrate the work of Professor William T. Baxter'.

About Professor W.T. Baxter

Joining the School just after the end of WWII, following periods spent as a student in the USA (at the University of Pennsylvania and Harvard), as a part-time lecturer at the University of Edinburgh, and as Professor at the University of Cape Town, South Africa, Professor Baxter sought to develop accounting as an academic discipline, introducing an economic perspective to the study of accounting, in keeping with well-established LSE academic traditions. He was one of the founders of the Association of University Teachers of Accounting (AUTA) in 1947, which later evolved into today's British Accounting Association (BAA).

Professor Baxter's research set the standard for challenging pre-conceived notions of accounting as purely an exercise in book-keeping. He made seminal contributions in accounting valuation and on the utility of accounting standards. In management accounting he originated the idea that allocating overheads might proxy for opportunity costs. His work has been used, challenged and revised by academics and practitioners across the public and private sectors, and indeed the work he did on deprival value in the 1970s is still being used by public utilities in the UK today.

Together with Professor Sidney Davidson at the University of Chicago, Will edited a classic collection of readings which ran to three editions (the latest being Baxter, W.T. and Davidson, S. (eds.) (1977), Studies in Accounting, London: ICAEW); and in 1963 they jointly founded the Journal of Accounting Research. Will remained a keen researcher in accounting history all his life, and his most recent publication in 2004 gave him an opportunity to provide his observations on the development of systems to record transactions in bartering and various forms of exchange in the US during its colonisation by Britain in the 18th Century (Baxter, W.T., 2004, Observations On Money, Barter And Bookkeeping, Accounting Historians Journal, Vol. 31, No. 1: 129-139).

In teaching, Professor Baxter sought to instil in his students an appreciation of academic enquiry, again in keeping with LSE tradition. Although he retired after 26 years at LSE in 1973, he continued to teach at the School for a number of years after his retirement. His past students have gone on to become senior figures in academic life, as well as in the accountancy profession, business, the public sector and regulatory bodies.

Professor Baxter's work has twice been celebrated in a festschrift from colleagues and students. The first was Debits, Credits, Finance and Profits, edited by Professors Harold Edey and Basil Yamey (London: Sweet & Maxwell, 1974) and the second was Essays in Accounting Thought edited by Professor Irvine Lapsley (Edinburgh: ICAS, 1996).

Professor Baxter was honoured with the BAA's Lifetime Achievement Award (in 2004) and by induction into the American Accounting Hall of Fame (in 2005), and a biographical interview with him by Professor Geoffrey Whittington appeared in Giving an Account: Life Histories of Four CAs, edited by Professor Stephen Walker (Edinburgh: ICAS, 2004), which also includes a full 'Baxter bibliography' up to that date. A tribute by some of his recent LSE colleagues, written shortly before his death, appears as Bromwich, M., Macve, R., and Ranger, D. (2006), Will Baxter: 100 Years Young, British Accounting Review, Vol. 38, No. 2 (June): 221-223.