The mission of our Business research themes is to enable excellence in multidisciplinary research.

Our research topic areas encompass a range of subjects and this is reflected in our members’ disciplines – finance and accounting, management, people, organisations and practice.

Members undertake research and knowledge exchange activities funded by a wide range of external bodies including: ESRC, EPSRC, MRC, British Academy, The European Union, NHS, Scottish Government, UNESCO, Research Councils, local government, professional bodies, and industry. 

Examples of research projects include:

Transparency Reporting Legislation for the Extractive and Logging Industries

This research project is led by Professor Louise Crawford, Aberdeen Business School, Robert Gordon University and Professor Jim Haslam at Sheffield University.

LoggingTogether with Dr Eleni Chatzigevri from University of Westminster, Lynsie Chew from UCL, and Martyn Gordon from Robert Gordon University, the team have been investigating the challenges of developing, interpreting and implementing new transparency reporting legislation for the extractive and logging industries. The ‘UK Reports on Payments to Governments Regulations’ implements one year early the EU Accounting and Transparency Directives, which have introduced a new obligation for large extractive and logging companies to report the payments they make to governments on a country-by-country basis. The European Commission predicts that these new transparency disclosures “will provide civil society in resource-rich countries with the information needed to hold governments to account for any income made through the exploitation of natural resources”.

The research team will formally report policy recommendations emerging from their analysis of the  county-by-country disclosures of over 50 UK listed extractive companies and interviews undertaken with users, preparers, auditors, industry representatives, civil servants, politicians and the legal profession. This research will inform responses to the scheduled Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) review to be completed by 1 December 2017 and the subsequent EU review scheduled for completion by 21 July 2018.

For further information, email Professor Louise Crawford or Professor Jim Haslam.

The Capability and Competency Requirements of Auditors

Professor Elizabeth Gammie, of Aberdeen Business School, conducts research into the competencies required by professional accountants.

AuditorsShe has recently been working with Barac (University of Pretoria), Howieson (University of Adelaide) & Staden (University of South Africa) on a study of the competencies of auditors for the global business environment, commissioned by the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Scotland (ICAS) and the Financial Reporting Council (FRC) in 2013.

The study explored the views of key audit stakeholders from Australia, South Africa and the UK.  Interviews were focused on six significant public companies from different sectors in each country and involved the audit engagement partners, the Chief Financial Officer, the Audit Committee Chair and the internal auditors.  Additionally, individuals who had some oversight, public policy or educative role with regard to audit in each of the three countries were also interviewed.  Questions focussed on the current and future role and responsibilities of the auditor, what capabilities auditors need to perform their role now and in the future, how recruitment models should be adapted to ensure that those recruited can meet the demands today and in the future and how should training and development programmes be changed to ensure that auditors are appropriately trained to perform their roles today and in the future. The report concludes with a “proposed strategy to ensure that auditors of today and tomorrow have the necessary capabilities and associated competencies to deliver high quality public interest audits”. 

Barac, Gammie, Howieson & van Staden (2016) The Capability and Competency Requirements of Auditors in Today’s Complex Global Business Environment was published in March 2016.

Democratic Legitimacy in the EU

EUProfessor Justin Greenwood has received funding from the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC), 2016-2019. £290159 Grant no: ES/NO18761/1: Democratic Legitimacy in the EU: Inside the 'Black Box of Informal Trilogues'. The ESRC grant is held by the Robert Gordon University (Principal Investigator - Justin Greenwood and co-investigator - Christilla Roederer-Rynning, University of Southern Denmark). This is a series of collaborative research projects under the 'Open Research Area' scheme (funded separately by the national research councils of: Germany - PI Ariadna Ripoll Servent University of Bamberg; the Netherlands - PI Gijs Jan Brandsma & CI Sebastiaan Princen, Utrecht University; and the UK),that seek to open up the ‘black box’ of these informal negotiations and examine what impact public debates have on these negotiations, and how the EU institutions use these debates to negotiate their respective positions.

See the articles by Christilla Roederer-Rynning and Justin Greenwood on 'The Culture of Trilogues' and 'The European Parliament as a Developing Legislature: coming of age in Trilogues?' in the Journal of European Public Policy.

Entrepreneurship in the Khyber Pass

Professor Alastair Anderson leads the entrepreneurship research group and is working on a British Council project based in the Khyber Pass.

Photo by James Mollison. Taken at the site where the Khyber Pass starts to climb high into the mountains towards Afghanistan, looking back towards the Pakistan side, August 2004.Photo by James Mollison. Taken at the site where the Khyber Pass starts to climb high into the mountains towards Afghanistan looking back towards the Pakistan side Aug 2004.  
CC BY-SA 2.5,

British Council funding (2014-2017) was awarded to Professor Anderson and his team to share and build knowledge with colleagues at IM Sciences in Pakistan, a business school located in the Khyber Pass region at Peshawar.

The project objectives are to examine social enterprise in this region, reflecting what is already known about western social enterprises and micropreneuring in poverty.  The turbulent history of this mountainous region offers a rich context for the study.  The data collected by the Peshwari team has rich accounts of institutional voids, remote locations and scarce resources. Yet there are also stories of authentic social responsibility and determination to improve lives and livelihoods. The current task is to analyse these data to developing theories which help explain the uniqueness and practices that bring about small successes or petty failures of local social enterprise in these particular circumstances which are so very different from those in west.

For further information about the project, please contact:

Professor Alistair Anderson Professor of Entrepreneurship
Tel: +44 (0)1224 263883 Email:

CommonHealth and Social Enterprises

Social enterprise: an impact journey

Foyer LogoThe CommonHealth Programme is a five year research programme designed to investigate the impact of social enterprises on the health and wellbeing of individuals and communities. Started in 2014, the Programme is funded jointly by the Medical Research Council (MRC) and the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC). 

Working in close partnership with a wide range of social enterprises across Scotland, RGU is collaborating with multi-disciplinary teams of academics from Glasgow Caledonian University, the University of Glasgow, the University of the Highlands and Islands, and the University of Stirling. 

The RGU research team is led by Professor Heather Fulford in Aberdeen Business School. This team is working on one of the 8 projects within Programme. The purpose of this project is to explore the challenges of collecting, recording, analysing, reporting and using data on client health and wellbeing outcomes in a social enterprise. In this case study project, we are working alongside a leading social enterprise (Aberdeen Foyer) to review the effectiveness of the mechanisms they use to measure health and wellbeing outcomes and to report their organisational impact to funders and other relevant stakeholders. New approaches to outcome measurement and reporting are being developed and tested.

Aberdeen Foyer is a leading social enterprise, established in 1995, which supports individuals experiencing youth homelessness and unemployment in communities in Aberdeen, Aberdeenshire and the wider region of North East Scotland.

A comparative investigation with other social enterprises in Scotland is also being planned. Using human-centred design techniques, new measurement frameworks will be designed, developed and tested with a view to helping social enterprises like Aberdeen Foyer increase the effectiveness of their health and wellbeing interventions, and enable them to report more comprehensively and meaningfully on their impact. 

For further information about the project, please contact:

Professor Heather Fulford Academic Director Tel: +44 (0)1224 263869 Email:

Chinese Financial System

Dr Lin Xiong of Aberdeen Business School is involved in a new project to study the Chinese financial system

This collaborative research project, funded by the Economic and Social Research Council and the National Natural Science Foundation of China, will run from 2017 till 2020. Dr Xiong is working with Prof Mustafa Caglayan (Heriot-Watt University), Prof Oleksandr Talavera (Swansea University) and Prof Jo Maltby (Sheffield University).

The aim of their investigation is to develop and deepen our understanding of the Chinese financial system and its crucial role in supporting the future development and continued growth of the Chinese economy. The research team will study how the financial system can be developed in a way that ensures access to finance for the poor and disadvantaged borrowers and how can the potential of new technology and new business models in financial services (‘Fintech’) can be best harnessed in the interests of innovation and growth.

Project Website:

For further information about the project, please contact:

Dr Lin Xiong Tel: +44(0)1224 263130 Email:

Economic and Social Research Council Logo 620