Kenneth Mcphail

Kenneth Mcphail


  • Alliance Manchester Business School, Booth Street East

    M13 9SS Manchester

    United Kingdom

Personal profile



  • Head, Alliance Manchester Business School
  • Director of Research, Alliance Manchester Business School
  • Fellow of the Academy of Social Sciences
  • Professor of Accounting, Alliance Manchester Business School, University of Manchester 
  • Member of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Australia and New Zeeland
  • Research Professor, La Trobe University


  • Deputy Head and Director of Research, Alliance Manchester Business School, University of Manchester, August 2017 - July 2021
  • Vice Dean, Social Responsibiity, Faculty of Humanities, University of Manchester, October 2014 - August 2017
  • Professor of Accounting, & Head of the School of Accounting, La Trobe University, from September 2010 - August 2014
  • Professor of Social & Ethical Accounting, University of Glasgow, August 2004 – August 2010
  • Lecturer, University of Glasgow, October 1996 -  August 2004


Ken McPhail is currently Head of Alliance Manchester Business School.  He was previously Deputy Head and Director of Research. Prior to this, Ken was Vice Dean for Social Responsibility within the Faculty of Humanities at the University of Manchester. As Vice DEan, Ken oversaw the strategic development and implementation of the Universities distinctive social responsibility agenda across 5 schools, 36 disciplines, 18,000 students and 1,800 academic and support staff. In addition, Ken also sat on the University’s Social Responsibility Governance Group, chaired by the Vice Chancellor and Principle. 

As Vice Dean for Social Responsibility, Ken was involved in delivering a new strategic relationship between the University and Greater Manchester City Council with a co-funded Economic Advisor to the new City Mayor. He was involved in the New Strategic Inclusive Growth Unit partnership with Joseph Rowntree Foundation and the Prize winning “Policy @ Manchester” platform for turning research into impact. He initiated the New Ethical Grand Challenges program, and facilitated the Sustainably Challenge delivered to 5000 new students in Welcome Week 2016. 

Prior to joining the University of Manchester, Ken McPhail was the Head of School at La Trobe University Melbourne. Ken was responsible for managing a complex departmental structure with staff across five campuses and played an active role in delivering the biggest change management process in the history of the school. Ken was also the Chair of the Business School’s newly establish 2017 Committee tasked with blue-sky thinking around delivering the universities strategic vision and beyond. 

Preceding his role at La Trobe University Melbourne, Ken was the Director of Undergraduate Studies and The Scottish Centre for Professional Ethics at the University of Glasgow. His role involved the management of some major changes in undergraduate provision across Glasgow University. Ken was also part of a team that secured grant funding of £50,000 to establish a Scottish forum for Professional Ethics.  

Ken’s roles have involved liaising with key professional bodies, professional service firms and other institutions, including The Institute of Chartered Accountants in Scotland; The Chartered Institute of Bankers of Scotland; the BBC; The Scottish Science Centre, The Royal Academy of Edinburgh, The General Medical Council, the Law Society, The Association of Certified Chartered Accountants. 

Ken’s work is focused on various aspects of accounting ethics and corporate accountability.  He has a PhD from the University of Dundee and a MA (Honours) degree in Accountancy & Computer Science from the Heriot-Watt University.

Further information

Journal affiliations

Ken sits on the editorial board of a number of journals, including Accounting Auditing & Accountability Journal; Critical Perspectives on Accounting; the Journal of Business Ethics Education; Sustainability, Accountability, Management, and Practice Journal and the newly established Business and Human Rights Journal.


  • Co-editor, the Journal of Business Ethics Education

  • Regional Editor, Sustainability Accounting, Management and Policy Journal

  • Editorial Board, Accounting Auditing & Accountability Journal

  • Editorial Board, Critical Perspectives on Accounting

  • Editorial Panel, The Journal of Business Ethics 2003-2006.

  • Editorial Panel, International Journal of Accounting Education 2004-2007.

  • Guest editor, special issue of Accounting Auditing and Accountability Journal entitled, Theological Perspectives on Accounting 2006.

  • Guest editor of special issue of Critical Perspectives on Accounting on Corporate Accountability and Human Rights with Dr John McKernan. 2011

  • Guest editor of special issue of Critical Perspectives on Accounterability, with Dr John McKernan. 2012.

  • Guest editor of special issue of Journal of business Ethics Education, with Parmendra Sharma, and Eduardo Roca, The Post-GFC Debate: Pedagogical Implications for Finance and Financial Planning Disciplines, 2012.

  • Guest Editor “The Past Present & Future of Accounting for Human Rights” Accounting Auditing & Accountability Journal.


Research interests

Ken is interested in the changing role of corporations in society and the systems of accountability that emerge in relation to these roles.  His recent research has focused on the emerging trend of human rights and responsibilities of companies.  Amongst other projects, he has studied the role of corporations in the delivery of Australia’s asylum seeker policy; the implementation of human rights screening in the Norwegian government’s Sovereign Wealth Fund and the introduction of human rights risk into bank lending decisions.

  • Over 100 research publications & conference proceedings
  • £690,000 in 22 successful grant applications
  • Seminal research on business and human rights.  Two seminal journal issues on business and human rights. One of the first Business & Human Rights Centers in a business school.
  • Current research projects and collaborations with Berkley Haas and Stern NYU, Business & Human Rights Centre.
  • Research & Impact collaborations with for example: Rio Tinto; Telstra; Coles; Australia Post; ANZ; Institute of Chartered Accountants in Scotland; Institute of Chartered Accountants in Australia & New Zealand; Chartered Institute of Bankers in Scotland; BBC Scotland; UN PRI and Save The Children.
  • 5 prize wining publications
  • 3 Books



PhD (without revision): University of Dundee (October 1992 - February 1997)

MA (Honours): Accountancy & Computer Science, Heriot-Watt University (September 1988 -July 1992)



  • Accounting & Business Ethics
  • Advanced International Financial Reporting
  • Financial Regulation & Ethics
  • Issues in Accounting Research
  • Research Methods in Accounting
  • Accounting & Society


  • Accounting & Business Ethics, Honors Level
  • Advanced Topics in International Accounting, Honors Level
  • Advanced Financial Accounting Practice, Honors Level
  • Social Accounting & Financial Reporting, Honors Level
  • Contemporary Financial Reporting Issues, Honors Level
  • Environmental Accounting & Financial Reporting, Honors Level Financial Accounting Year 1

Expertise related to UN Sustainable Development Goals

In 2015, UN member states agreed to 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. This person’s work contributes towards the following SDG(s):

  • SDG 3 - Good Health and Well-being
  • SDG 8 - Decent Work and Economic Growth
  • SDG 10 - Reduced Inequalities
  • SDG 11 - Sustainable Cities and Communities
  • SDG 12 - Responsible Consumption and Production

Research Beacons, Institutes and Platforms

  • Digital Futures
  • Work and Equalities Institute
  • Manchester Urban Institute
  • Creative Manchester


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