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School of Business and Management

Professor Sean McCartney


Professor of Accounting and Business History

Telephone: +44 (0)20 7882 2705
Room Number: Mile End, Bancroft Building, Room 4.37
Office Hours: Tuesday, 11.15am-1.00pm


Second Year Academic Advisor

Undergraduate Teaching

  • International Financial Accounting (BUS238)

Postgraduate Teaching

  • Financial Reporting (BUSM054)


Research Interests:

Sean's research interests are mainly historical, focusing on aspects of British industrial performance between the beginning of the Industrial Revolution and the First World War. He has written widely on the railway industry during the nineteenth century, and is currently working on aspects of the financial reporting and auditing of railway companies in that period.


Publications since 2001:

Journal Articles:

  • '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)
  • ‘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).
  • 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. 
  • ‘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 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). 
  • 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). 


  • The Railway King. George Hudson: A Study in Victorian Entrepreneurship, published by Hambledon and London (2004) pp. 317 (with Tony Arnold).

Contributions to Edited Books:

  • 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). 
  • 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

First 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?'

Second supervisor: 

  • Beatriz Rodriguez-Satizabal, 'Financing Entrepreneurs and Firms: from stand-alone to business groups. The case of Colombia'
  • Aigerin Umbetbayeva, 'Financial reporting framework in a developing world: opportunities and challenges of IFRS adoption in Kazakhstan'

PhD Supervision Completions

  • Nadia Benbouzid, 2014, ‘The Impact of Securitization on Financial Stability’ Now Lecturer in Banking & Finance at Greenwich University
  • Marrisa Joseph, 2017
  • Ramin Nassehi, 2017