Staff profile

Professor Kenneth J.

Professor Kenneth J. McPhail

Head (Department of Accounting)

College of Arts, Social Sciences and Commerce

La Trobe Business School

Department of Accounting and Data Analytics

Melbourne (Bundoora)


BS (Hons), PhD, CA



Membership of professional associations

The Institute of Chartered Accountants in Australia

Area of study


Brief profile

Ken was appointed Professor of Accounting at La Trobe in September 2010.  Prior to this he was professor of Social and Ethical Accounting at the University of Glasgow, a position he held since 2004.  He joined Glasgow in 1996 after completing his PhD at the University of Dundee under the supervision of Prof. Rob Gray. Prof. McPhail was appointed head of the department of Accounting in 2013.

Prof. McPhail is on the editorial board of Accounting Auditing & Accountability Journal and Critical Perspectives on Accounting.  He is a co-editor of the Journal of Business Ethics Education and Sustainability, Accountability, Management, and Practice Journal. He has held an Honorary Professorship at Deakin University from February 2006 and sat on the Institute of Chartered Accountants in Scotland’s Ethics Committee prior to moving to Melbourne.  Since 2013 Ken has been on the United Nations PRME Working Group for Business and Human Rights.

Prof. McPhail's research interests lie principally in the area of corporate accountability and ethics, a topic on which he has lectured and published widely. His publications include 4 prize winning articles; a four volume research master work on Accounting Ethics, published by Sage in 2013 and two special journal issues, one on Accounting and Human Rights and a second on Accounting & Theology.  His recent speaking engagements have included, The United Nations Association of Australia, The Graduate Management Association of Australia; The Institute of Chartered Accountants Australia and a Multi Stakeholder initiative consultation run by the US based Institute for Multi-Stakeholder Initiative Integrity (MSI Integrity) and the International Human Rights Clinic at Harvard Law School (IHRC).  In 2011, Prof. McPhail delivered the CPA Australia Kate Stanton Annual Research Lecture on Accounting & Human Rights.

In 2011, Ken was awarded an honorary membership of the Institute of Chartered Accountants in Australia for his work on accounting, ethics and human rights.

Research interests

Business ethics/ Corporate Social Responsibility

- Business, Religion & Spirituality

- Corporate Accountability, Human Rights & Sustainability

- The Globalisation of Professional Bodies & The Public Interest

Teaching units

ACC3 IAC - International Accounting

ACC5 RMA - Research Methodologies in Accounting


Prof. McPhail consults primarily in the area of business and human rights.

Recent publications

Gray, R.H. Bebbington, J and K. McPhail: 2013, Teaching Ethics And The Ethics Of Teaching: Educating For Immorality And A Possible Case For Social And Environmental Accounting. in Accounting Education: Prize Winning Contributions. Ed Wilson R.M.S.  (Routledge: London)

McPhail, K., 2013, Accounting Ethics. 4 Volume Research Master Work (Sage: London), 1472 pages.

McPhail, K. 2013 “Corporate Responsibility to Respect Human Rights & Business Schools’ Responsibility to Teach It: Incorporating human rights into the sustainability agenda.” Accounting Education: an international journal.

McPhail, K. 2013 “Corporate Responsibility to Respect Human Rights & Business Schools’ Responsibility to Teach It: A Reply And A Development.” Accounting Education: an international journal.

McPhail, K. & Maimunah, T.F. 2012, “Regulating for Rights & Sustainability: Biofuel in Malaysia”, Sustainability Accounting, Management and Policy Journal Vol3, No.2, pp, 252-261. Emerald Literary Awards 2013.

Sharma, P, Roca, E & McPhail, K. 2012, “The Global Financial Crisis and Reinventing the Business School”, Journal of business Ethics Education. Vol. 9, pp 3-10

McKernan J. & McPhail 2012, “Accountability and Accounterability". Critical Perspectives on Accounting, Vol.23, No.3. pp. 177–182.

McPhail, K. 2012, “Accounting & Human Rights: It makes good business sense to incorporate human rights within your corporate social responsibility policy.” Charter, the Institute of Chartered Accountants in Australia, February 2012, pp33-34 

McPhail, K. 2012, “It’s time for Business Schools to put Human Rights on the Agenda.” The Conversation, 11th December 2012

McPhail, K. 2012, “Malaysia's sustainability agenda reignites debate over food versus fuel.” The Conversation, 11th September 2012

McPhail, K. & McKernan J. 2011 “Accounting for Human Rights: an Overview and Introduction.” Critical Perspectives on Accounting  Vol. 22, No.8. pp.733-737.

Islam, A & McPhail K. 2011 “Regulating for corporate human rights abuses: The emergence of corporate reporting on the ILO's human rights standards within the global garment manufacturing and retail industry.” Critical Perspectives on Accounting Vol. 22, No.8 pp.790-810. 

McPhail, K. 2011 “A Review of The Emergence of Post-Secular Critical Accounting and a Provocation from Radical Orthodoxy.” Critical Perspectives in Accounting Vol.22, No.5 pp.516-528

McPhail, K., Paisey, C. and Paisey, N., 2010, "Class, social deprivation and accounting education in Scottish schools: implications for the reproduction of the accounting profession and practice", 21(1) 31-50. Critical Perspectives on Accounting,

McPhail, K., Paisey, C. and Paisey, N., 2010, "Accounting at school: The impact of policy, teachers and class on the ethical construction of accounting & business in Scottish secondary schools", The International Journal of Critical Accounting. Vol.2 No.3  pp.289-318.

McPhail, K. 2010, “Board Diversity, the Logic of Difference & the Logic of Equivalence: A Critical Study of the Emergence of Corporate Democracy” The Spanish Accounting Review 2010 Vol.13 no.1.pp.125-144

McPhail, K., 2010, "Professions, integrity and the regulatory relationship: defending & reconceptualising principles based regulation & associational democracy", in The future of financial regulation, MacNeil, I. and OBrien, J., eds., Ashgate.

McPhail, K., 2010, "Management ethics, contemporary contexts: book review", The European Accounting Review . Vol.20 no.2. pp.378-385.

Campbell, D., McPhail, K. and Slack, R., 2009, "Face work in annual reports: a study of the management of encounter through annual reports, informed by Levinas and Bauman", Accounting, Auditing & Accountability Journal, vol. 22, no. 6, pp. 907-932.,

Kreander, N., Beattie, V. and McPhail, K., 2009, "Putting our money where their mouth is: alignment of charitable aims with charity investments - tensions in policy and practice", British Accounting Review, vol. 41, no. 3, September, pp. 154-168. Best Paper Award for 2009,

McPhail, K., 2009, "Where is the ethical knowledge in the knowledge economy?: Power and potential in the emergence of ethical knowledge as a component of intellectual capital", Critical Perspectives on Accounting, vol. 20, no. 7, October, pp. 804-822.


Birkin, A; Brown, A Paterson Brown, I; Gammell, G; Kerr, C; McPhail, K; Robertson, I; Walters, D, BarbourJ.E. (2009)  Shades of Gray: Ethical Dilemmas,  The Institute of chartered Accountants, Edinburgh.

McPhail, K. and Walters, D., 2009, Accounting & Business Ethics: An Introduction, Routledge.


McLean, S. and McPhail, K., 2008, "More law and ethics learning needed", The Pharmaceutical Journal, vol. 280, no. 7487, February, pp. 122-122.

McPhail, K., 2007, "Interdisciplinary perspectives on professional Ethics and some thoughts on social network analysis", Journal of Business Ethics Education, vol. 4, pp. 97-102.

McPhail, K., 2007, "Professional anxiety, deliberative democracy and ethics education", Journal of Business Ethics Education, vol. 4, pp. 127-134. 

McPhail, K., 2006, Ethics and the individual professional accountant: a literature review, ICAS, Edinburgh.

Kreander, N., Beattie, V. and McPhail, K., 2006, UK charity ethical investment: policy, practice and disclosure (RR 97), ACCA.

McPhail, K., 2006, "Going public: a brief note on civilising accounting education", Business Ethics: A European Review, vol. 15, no. 3, pp. 306-309.

McPhail, K.J: 2006, ‘Challenges in the Enron Context’, CA Magazine January pp15.

McPhail, K.(2005) Care in the community: professional ethics and the paradox of Pro Bono. Accounting Education: An International Journal 14 (2)pp 213-227

McPhail, K., Gray, R. and Gorringe, T.(2005) Crossing the great divide: Critiquing the sacred secular dichotomy in accounting research. Accounting, Auditing and Accountability 18 (2)pp 185-188

McPhail, K.(2005) Ethics, Organisation & Control.Basingstoke1403935351Palgrave MacmillanIn, Berry, A. Broadbent, J. and Otley, D. (Eds) Management Control Theories: Issues and Performance

McPhail, K.J., Gorringe, T. & R.H. Gray, 2004, ‘Accounting And Theology: An Introduction. Initiating a Dialogue Between Immediacy and Eternity.’ Accounting Auditing and Accountability Journal 17(3), 320-326.

Kreander, N., McPhail, K.J. & D, Molyneaux, 2004, ‘God’s Fund Managers: A Critical Study of Stock Market Investment Practices of The Church of England and UK Methodists.’ Accounting Auditing & Accountability Journal, 17(3), 408-441.

Adams, C.A. & McPhail, K.J. 2004, ‘Reporting And The Politics Of Difference: (Non) Disclosure On Ethnic Minorities’, ABACUS. 40(3), 405-435.

McPhail, K.J. 2004, ‘An Emotional Response To The State of Accounting Education: Developing Accounting Students’ Emotional Intelligence.’ Critical Perspectives on Accounting, 15(4-5), 629-648.

McPhail, K.J. 2003, ‘Building A Tender Nation: Developing a WEB Based Accounting & Business Ethics Community.’ Journal of Business Ethics 48(1), 65-74.

McPhail, K.J. 2003 ‘Relocating Accounting & Business Ethics: Reflections on a Business Ethics Retreat in Scotland’s National Park.’ British Accounting Review 35(4), 367-384.


Ivanitz, M. & McPhail, K.: 2003, ‘ATSIC: Autonomy or Accountability’ in Government Reformed: values and new political institutions Holland I, and J Flemming (eds) pp185-202 (Ashgate: Aldershot)

McPhail, K.J. 2002 ‘Using Porridge to Teach Business Ethics: Reflections on a Visit to Scotland’s most Notorious Prison and Some Thoughts on the Importance of Location in Teaching Business Ethics’, Journal of Teaching Business Ethics*, 6/3, 355-369.



McPhail, K.J.: 2002,‘Enron Teaches an Ethics Lesson’, Times Higher Education Supplement 20th September.

McPhail, K.J. 2001. ‘The Dialectic of Accounting Education: From role identity to ego identity’, Critical Perspectives on Accounting, 12, 471-500.

McPhail, K.J. 2001, ‘The Ethical Challenges of Globalisation: Critical Reflections on the ISBEE 2nd World Congress in Sao Paulo, Brazil’, Business Ethics: A European Review, 10, 78-82.

McPhail, K.J. 2001 ‘The Other Objective of Ethics Education: Rehumanising the Accounting Profession: A Study of Ethics Education in Law, Engineering, Medicine and Accountancy’, Journal of Business Ethics, 34 (3/4), 279-298.



McPhail, K.J.: 2001, ‘The Ethical Challenges of Globalisation: Critical Reflections on The ISBEE 2nd World Congress in Sao Paulo, Brazil’ Abstract published in The Philosophers Index, 35(3), October.

McPhail, K.J.: 2001, ‘The Pro’s of Using Con’s in Business Ethics Education: A short report on a visit to Barlinnie prison in Glasgow and a call for more accounting ethics education.’  European Business Ethics Newsletter 2, July, pp7-8.

Gray R., & Collison, D., with French, J., McPhail, K.J., & L., Stevenson: 2001 The Professional Accountancy Bodies Education and the Environment. ICAS research Monograph


McPhail, K.J.: 2000, ‘Theology & The End Of Ethics. More Reflections on The ISBEE 2nd World Congress in Sao Paulo, Brazil.’ The European Business Ethics Newsletter, November. issue 3, pp. 8-9.

McPhail, K.J.: 1999, ‘The Threat of Ethical Accountants: An Application of Foucault’s Concept of Ethics to Accounting Education and Some Thoughts on Ethically Educating For The Other’, Critical Perspectives on Accounting 10, 833-866.

Gray, R.H. Bebbington, J and K. McPhail: 1994, ‘Teaching Ethics And The Ethics Of Teaching: Educating For Immorality And A Possible Case For Social And Environmental Accounting.’ Accounting Education 3, 51-75. Best paper 1994

Research projects

Ken's current research projects include a Special Issue of Accounting Auditing and Accountability Journal titled, "The Past the Present and the Future of Social Accounting for Human Rights."