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School of Business and Management

Professor Sean McCartney


Emeritus Professor of Accounting and Business History




Sean worked at Queen Mary since 2007 and is now an Emeritus Professor of Accounting and Business History. He was previously Professor of Accounting at the University of Essex. He was a member of the Department of Accounting and Financial Management.


Research Interests:

Sean's research interests are mainly historical, focusing on:

  1. aspects of British industrial performance between the beginning of the Industrial Revolution and the First World War. He has written widely on the railway and canal sectors industry during the eighteenth/nineteenth centuries, and is currently working on the ‘Railway Mania’ of 1845-7.
  2. the performance of the rail industry in Britain since privatisation in the mid-1990s.  Here he is currently working on the rail freight industry.

Centre and Group Membership:



Publications since 2001:


  • The Privatisation of British Rail: How Not to Run a Railway, Routledge (2021) (with John Stittle).
  • Accounting as a technology of neoliberalism: The accountability role of IPSAS in Nigeria, under review with Critical Perspectives on Accounting, (with Owolabi M. Bakre and Simeon F. Fayemi).


Working papers

  • Moral economy of fraud, Nigeria oil and gas sector and accounting, under review with Accounting, Auditing and Accountability Journal, (with Owolabi M. Bakre, Simeon F. Fayemi and Julius Otusanya).


Published contributions

  • 'A Very Costly Industry': The cost of Britain's privatised railway, Critical Perspectives on Accounting, Vol. 49, (2017), pp. 1-17 (with John Stittle).
  • 'Western Accounting Reforms and Accountability in Wealth Redistribution in Patronage based Nigerian Society', Accounting, Auditing and Accountability Journal, Vol. 30 No. 6, (2017) pp.1288-1308 (with Owolabi M. Bakre and Sarah Lauwo).
  • Accounting for Producer Needs: The case of Britain's rail infrastructure, Accounting Forum, Vol.39 No. 2, (2015), pp.109-20 (with John Stittle).
  • Competence is Not Enough: Meta-competence and Accounting Education, in Richard Wilson (ed) Accounting Education Research. London: Routledge (2013) (with Reva Brown).
  • ‘Failing to deliver’: the privatized British rail freight industry, Public Money and Management, Vol. 33 No. 5, (2013), pp. 321-8 (with John Stittle).
  • Financial capitalism, incorporation and the emergence of financial reporting information, Accounting, Auditing and Accountability Journal, Vol. 25 No. 8, (2012), pp. 1290-316 (with Tony Arnold).
  • ‘Engines of Extravagance’: The privatised British railway rolling stock industry, Critical Perspectives on Accounting, Vol. 23 No. 2, (2012), pp. 153-67 (with John Stittle).
  • ‘Carry On up the East Coast’: A case study in railway franchising, Public Money and Management, Vol. 31 No. 2, (2011), pp. 123-30 (with John Stittle).
  • ‘Veritable gold mines before the arrival of railway competition’: but did dividends signal rates of return in the English canal industry?, Economic History Review, Vol. 64 No. 1 (2011), pp. 214–236 (with Tony Arnold). Republished (2014) in D. Coffman & L. Neal (eds) The History of Financial Crises, Routledge. 
  • Can macro-economic sources be used to define UK business performance, 1855-1914?, Business History, Vol. 52 No. 4 (2010), pp. 564-89. (with Tony Arnold).
  • The transition to financial capitalism and its implications for financial reporting: evidence from the English canal companies, Accounting, Auditing and Accountability Journal, Vol. 21 No. 8 (2008), pp. 1185 - 1209 (with Tony Arnold).
  • ‘Taken for a ride’: the privatisation of the UK railway rolling stock industry, Public Money and Management, Vol. 28 No. 2 (2008), pp. 93-100 (with John Stittle).
  • Professor Reva Berman Brown (1939–2007) – A Tribute, Accounting Education, Vol. 16 No. 3 (2007) pp. 309-10.
  • Medieval Anglo-Jewry and their Food, 1066-1290, in Richard Hosking (ed.) Authenticity in the Kitchen, pp. 108-18. Totnes, Devon: Prospect Books (2006) (with Reva Brown). 
  • ‘Not our problem’: UK Government's fiscal obligations towards the privatised railway network, Accounting Forum, Vol. 30 No. 2 (2006) pp. 139-53 (with John Stittle).
  • The Exchequer of the Jews Revisited: The Operation and Effect of the Scaccarium Judeorum, Medieval History Journal, Vol. 8 No. 2 (2005) pp. 303-22 (with Reva Brown).
  • Rates of return, concentration levels and strategic change in the British railway industry, 1830-1912, Journal of Transport History, Vol. 26 No. 1 (2005) pp. 41-60 (with Tony Arnold).
  • The Use of Usefulness: An examination of the ‘user needs’ approach to the financial reporting conceptual framework, Journal of Applied Accounting Research, Vol. 7, No. 2 (2005) pp. 52-79.
  • Were they ever ‘productive to the capitalist’? Rates of return on Britain's railways, 1830-55, Journal of European Economic History, Vol. 33 No. 2 (2004) pp. 383-410 (with Tony Arnold). 
  • David of Oxford and Licoricia of Winchester: Glimpses of the life of a Jewish family in 13th century England, Jewish Historical Studies, Vol. 39 (2004) pp. 1-34 (with Reva Brown).
  • The Railway King. George Hudson: A Study in Victorian Entrepreneurship, Hambledon and London (2004) pp. 317 (with Tony Arnold).
  • The development of capability: the content of potential and the potential of content, Education + Training, Vol. 46 No. 1 (2004) pp. 7-10 (with Reva Brown).
  • The Railway Mania of 1845-7: Market irrationality or a collusive swindle based on accounting distortions?, Accounting, Auditing and Accountability Journal, Vol. 16 No. 5 (2003) pp. 821-52 (with Tony Arnold). Republished (2014) in D. Coffman & L. Neal (eds) The History of Financial Crises, Routledge. 
  • The Internal Exile of Medieval English Jewry, Medieval History Journal, Vol. 6 No. 1 (2003) pp. 55-74 (with Reva Brown).
  • It may be earlier than you think: evidence, myths and informed debate in accounting history, Critical Perspectives on Accounting, Vol. 14 No. 3 (2003) pp. 227-53 (with Tony Arnold).
  • Let’s have some Capatence here, Education + Training, Vol. 45 No. 1 (2003) pp. 7-12 (with Reva Brown).
  • The beginnings of accounting for capital consumption: disclosure practices in the British railway industry, 1830-55, Accounting and Business Research, Vol. 32 No. 4 (2002) pp. 195-208 (with Tony Arnold).
  • Financial reporting in the context of crisis: reconsidering the impact of the mania on early railway accounting, European Accounting Review, Vol. 11 No. 2 (2002) pp. 401-17 (with Tony Arnold).
  • The Value of Management Letters to Unlisted Companies, British Accounting Review, Vol. 33 No. 4 (2002) pp. 549-68 (with Stuart Manson and Michael Sherer).
  • The Business Activities of Jewish Women Entrepreneurs in Medieval England, Management Decision, Vol. 39, No. 9 (2001) pp. 699-709 (with Reva Brown).
  • ‘Capital clamours for profitable investment, confidence has become eager and may shortly become blind’: George Hudson and the 'railway mania' extensions of the York and North Midland Railway, Journal of Industrial History, Vol. 4 No. 2 (2001) pp. 94-116 (with Tony Arnold).
  • ‘A vast aggregate of avaricious and flagitious jobbing’? George Hudson and the evolution of directorial responsibility, Accounting, Business & Financial History, Vol. 11 No. 2 (2001) pp. 117-43 (with Tony Arnold). (Awarded the Basil Yamey Prize for best paper of 2001 in Accounting, Business & Financial History.)
  • Audit Automation as Control within Audit Firms, Accounting, Auditing and Accountability Journal, Vol. 14 No. 1 (2001) pp. 109-30 (with Stuart Manson and Michael Sherer).
  • Living in Limbo: The Experience of Jewish Converts in Medieval England, in Guyda Armstron and Ian N Wood (eds.) Christianizing Peoples and Converting Individuals, pp. 169-91. Turnhout, Belgium: Brepols Publishers (2001) (with Reva Brown).


Current Doctoral Students:

1st Supervisor

  • Anne Gichuru-Ogweno, 'Gender, race and ethnicity inequalities in accountancy: The experiences of women accountants in Kenya'
  • Chandres Tejura, 'Is Accounting education/training overly focused on profit and wealth maximisation at the expense of ethics, if so, what are the ramifications for society?'


2nd Supervisor

  • Aigerin Umbetbayeva: 'Financial reporting framework in a developing world: opportunities and challenges of IFRS adoption in Kazakhstan.' 

PhD Supervision Completions: 

(whilst at Queen Mary University of London)

  • Beatriz Rodriguez-Satizabal, 'Financing Entrepreneurs and Firms: from stand-alone to business groups. The case of Colombia'. Awarded 2020. 
  • Marrisa Joseph, ‘Literary Businesses: Institutions of the Victorian Publishing Industry’. Awarded 2017. Dr Joseph is now Lecturer in Entrepreneurship at the Henley Business School.
  • Ramin Nassehi, Studying rentier states over time: the political economy of macroeconomic policymaking in pre-Revolutionary Iran. Awarded 2017. Dr Nassehi is now Lecturer in Economics at UCL.
  • Nadia Benbouzid, ‘The Impact of Securitization on Financial Stability.’ Awarded 2014. Dr Benbouzid is now Senior Lecturer in Finance at Greenwich University).
  • Mohamed Nagy Osman Mohamed, 'Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) Reporting of Egyptian Banks: A Critical and Postcolonial Perspective.' Awarded 2012. Dr Osman is now Assistant Professor at the University of Qatar.
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