Paolo Quattrone Headshot

Chair in Accounting Governance & Social Innovation

Roles and Responsibilities


Before joining Edinburgh, Paolo Quattrone was Professor of Accounting and Management Control at IE Business School, Madrid, and Reader in Accounting at the Saïd Business School, and Official Student (i.e. Fellow) of Christ Church, at the University of Oxford. A truly international scholar, he has conducted research and taught at the Universities of Catania, HEC-Paris, Kyoto, Madrid Carlos III, Manchester, Oxford, Palermo, Siena, Stanford and Luigi Bocconi of Milan. His work addresses questions related to the emergence and diffusion of accounting and managerial practices in historical and contemporary settings.

Professor Quattrone has published widely on the interface between management control and information technologies (especially ERPs), the history of accounting and management practices and thinking, the diffusion of management solutions, and the managerialisation of higher education institutions. His research appears on journals such as Accounting, Organizations and Society, Administrative Science Quarterly, and Contemporary Accounting Research. His work on the accounting and administrative practices in the Jesuit Order has been featured in the Financial Times.

As Fulbright New Century Scholar at the University of Stanford, he conducted research on changes in higher education and the university. Professor Quattrone also served on the Standing Scientific Committee of the European Accounting Association for several years. He is Associate Editor of The British Accounting Review  and Critical Perspectives of Accounting and sits on the editorial boards of major academic journals such as Accounting Organizations and Society, Accounting, Auditing and Accountability Journal, the Accounting Historians Journal and Organization. More recently, he teaches, consults, and researches in the area of Major Programme Management, where he is developing a series of case studies on reporting, governance and leadership practices to address issues of risk and uncertainty in complex organizations for courses that he teaches at Oxford, and for the Major Projects Leadership Academy of the UK Cabinet.

He is developing a series of 'Impact Cases' on how his research is changing reporting and governance practices in the UK Government's Major Projects such as the Prison Unit Costs Programme, at the Ministry of Justice, and the UK’s Submarine Acquisition programme, at the Ministry of Defence. In collaboration with the Infrastructure and Project Authority, he is now extending his work to various Departments of the UK Government.

In his TEDxOxbridge talk on 'Governing socie-ties', he offers a comparison between corporate and collegiate forms of governance showing how decision-making and deliberation processes can be rethought to rely on collective forms of intelligence that engage participants rather than alienating them. 

The Italian Government awarded him a grant under the programme ‘Messaggeri della conoscenza’ to promote knowledge exchanges between less developed areas of the Italian ‘Mezzogiorno’ and the UK. 

Professor Quattrone is also an Associate Fellow at the Saïd Business School and a Senior Research Associate of Italian Studies at Oxford, both at the University of Oxford.

As Dean of Special projects for the College of Humanities and Social Sciences he coordinated the efforts for the establishment of the Edinburgh Futures Institute at the recently acquired Edinburgh Old Royal Infirmary on Lauriston Place.

More information is available on his personal web page.

Research Taxonomy

Research Interests

People normally think that accounting is all about numbers and economic rationality. Professor Quattrone’s research and teaching seeks to change this taken for granted and conventional view. He studies accounting and management techniques for their visual power and ability to engage the user rather than simply for their aid to rational decision making. In his view accounting always fails to provide accurate information but it is important for the effects that it produces on organizational actors, and for the roles it plays other than producing information for decision making.

Successful techniques such as the Balanced Scorecard, Strategic Maps, 6-Sigma and information technologies such as Enterprise Resource Planning systems all rely on various forms of visualization and rhetorical techniques which help managers to imagine new business, how to align strategy and performance and the like. These techniques and technologies rather than simply representing financial transactions and performances help organizational actors to innovate and invent new business, processes, and solutions. ‘Numbers are figures’ an Early Modern accounting scholar said. Professor Quattrone takes this statement seriously as indeed management is made by, and produces, all sorts of graphs, images, and strategic visions which inform managers’ behaviours and produce effects. From this perspective accounting and management has to do more with semiotics, visual studies and the sociology of knowledge, science and technology than with economics.

Professor Quattrone is currently working on the analysis of the visual and rhetorical techniques which allow the spread and success of management, governance and accountability practices. He is mainly interested in large multinational corporations, universities, and religious organisations and seeks to bring this wide range of interests and case material into his teaching in the areas of management accounting and control systems. He has just completed as Principal Investigator a project sponsored by the Chartered Institute of Management Accounting (CIMA) to innovate the design of reporting systems in order for these to generate innovation, wise governance and leadership.

His research interests cut across various disciplines including history and history of science and technology, semiotics, sociology and he is particularly interested in the interface between business and the humanities.

View a video of his Inaugural Lecture at the University of Edinburgh.

Professor Quattrone is interested in supervising students in the following areas:

  • Management control systems in Major Programmes and Mega projects
  • Design of management control systems and reporting formats
  • Interaction between reporting, governance, leadership and social innovation
  • Emergence and diffusion of accounting practices, management thinking and the accounting profession (also in historical contexts and in relation to the diffusion of humanism and the humanities)
  • Critical analyses of the interface between accounting, rationality and rational decision making
  • Studies on the relationships between accounting, information and digital technologies
  • Higher education management, governance and trends

Research Area

Publication Type Actions