Scholar spotlight

This page highlights the people who are making accounting impactful.

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Mike Rogerson

PhD Candidate, University of Bath and Postdoctoral Research Fellow, University of Surrey

For me, impact is about the desire to change thinking inside and outside academia. There is more research being conducted today that at any time in history. And yet the competing tensions at the heart of public policy making and the profit imperative in corporate decision-making mean that even those organizations intending to be a positive influence in their environments often fall short or actually exacerbate the problems they’re attempting to address. Impactful research can engage with these issues to offer decision makers evidence that enables them to at least make better-informed choices.

Mike Rogerson is a PhD candidate at the University of Bath working with Professor Andrew Crane, Dr Johanne Grosvold and Dr Vivek Soundararajan on organizational responses to modern slavery legislation. He is also a part-time Postdoctoral Research Fellow in the Centre for the Decentralised Digital Economy at the University of Surrey, where he works with Professor Glenn Parry on novel techniques for providing supply chain transparency.

Industry experience

Having managed labour rights issues while working in Libya, Mike was in Qatar when the Guardian newspaper broke stories of modern slavery in the Gulf state. Having continued his environmental work there, he was struck by the dissonance between rising calls for sustainability and the reality of what was happening to people as ‘responsible business’ gained traction. While the 1987 Brundtland Report defines sustainable development as “development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs,” the future has been the clear focus of sustainability efforts. This emphasis on “meeting the needs of the present” has been taken narrowly, however, often ignoring the plight of communities in which rare earth metals are mined, garments are produced, and indigenous peoples live.

Research for impact

Leaving industry for academia in 2018, Mike’s work has focused on how organizations with the power to significantly impact the labour rights of workers in supply chains are dealing with the UK Modern Slavery Act 2015 (MSA) and the forthcoming European Union legislation on mandatory environmental and human rights due diligence. To date, Mike has published work on how legislators failed to make MSA relevant to the circumstances and regulations public buyers are under, research which has led to conversations in the UK Home Office about addressing this flaw.

Mike has also studied the UK accounting profession’s response to MSA. As part of his PhD, Mike has found that the feedback loop between the largest professional services firms, their clients, and consumers, which can influence client action, has so far failed to force the profession to act in the role of trusted advisor it does on other, similar issues.

Mike’s other research projects have focused on offering visibility to firms in their supply chains through using blockchain to trace goods and materials and through adopting novel biomarkers in cocoa supply chains to establish the provenance of a cocoa crop. Enabling firms, auditors, and regulators to learn of agricultural products’ origin, for example, can allow for targeted investigations to be conducted on specific farms and plantations for environmental and human rights abuses.