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Reform Lessons From Investigative Journalism. Review Essay of ‘Beancounters’ by Richard Brooks

Shah, A. ORCID: 0000-0002-5043-5884 (2022). Reform Lessons From Investigative Journalism. Review Essay of ‘Beancounters’ by Richard Brooks. British Accounting Review, 54(3), 101069. doi: 10.1016/


In 2021, the work of investigative journalists ICIJ and the accountants-founded global NGO Tax Justice Network had been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize. This article reviews a recent bestselling research book by a multi-award-winning Private Eye investigative journalist: ‘Beancounters’ by Richard Brooks. Despite being a significant influence on global accounting practice, the culture, politics, services and practices of the Big 4 firms have hardly received serious forensic scrutiny by accounting academics. This paper discusses the methods, motives and breakthroughs of investigative journalists and how these can help advance our research and teaching in accounting. Their scoops and narratives can certainly make the classroom very interesting. Freed from the need to ‘prove’ scientific credibility and appease academic peer-review, investigative journalists can provide us with new concepts, linkages, data and evidence which we would not otherwise have seen. They force us to step out of our disciplinary boundaries and raise disturbing questions about our academic leadership, pedagogy, moral purpose and strategic direction. We provide suggestions for renewed academic courage, research and education reform in both accounting and finance and how the disciplines can be made more ethical, relevant and impactful.

Publication Type: Article
Additional Information: © 2021. This article has been published in British Accounting Review by Elsevier, DOI: This manuscript version is made available under the CC-BY-NC-ND 4.0 license
Publisher Keywords: Accounting Ethics, Profession, Fraud, Investigative Journalism, Big 4, White collar crime, Culture, International Accounting, Politics, Education, Public Interest
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HF Commerce > HF5601 Accounting
J Political Science > JA Political science (General)
Departments: School of Policy & Global Affairs > International Politics
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