Engagement and impact have become trendy words. Academic research has to have impact and such an impact has to be documented and measured. Beyond this fad and its unintended consequences, is there any researcher who does not want her research to be heard and have some relevance? I doubt, and I feel that it is exactly the lack of engagement with public issues beyond academia that has made academia and ‘experts’ less relevant in the recent years (Brexit docet).
Engaging with the professional community, practitioners, accounting bodies and firms, and various governmental authorities is for me part of the duties of a public intellectual (assuming this figure is still valued and valuable in society). While I consider publishing papers of the highest standard a very good exercise to refine theory and thinking and to lay the basis for long-term innovation, I consider engagement as an equally important exercise to make sure that such theory and thinking are debated, scrutinized, disseminated, and enriched by exposing them to members of various communities beyond academia.
My engagement activities range from delivering talks on issues such as governance, reporting, management controls, accounting and transparency, the the future of accounting and the accounting profession, and major programme management to offering mentoring and advice to companies and governments.
I engage with accounting bodies such as the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales (ICAEW), who kindly invited me to deliver the 2016 PD Leake Annual Lecture, the Chartered Institute of Management Accounting (CIMA), which generously sponsored some of my research, and with the Institute of Chartered Accountants in Scotland (ICAS) through my activities at the Centre for Accounting and Society at the University of Edinburgh.
I have also delivered talks on accounting and the digital revolution for the Belgian Institute of Management Accountants and Controllers, on governance and the evolution of the finance function for PwC Finance leaders’ summit and the Governance Institute. Since January 2019, I became a Member of the Advisory Group on the Future of Corporate Reporting at the Financial Reporting Council.
As an academic, I also sit on various editorial boards and I was a member of the European Accounting Association scientific committee for more than a decade. From 2017, I also sit on the Thought Leadership and Business Ethics Committee of the Association of International Certified Public Accountants-Chartered Institute of Management Accountants (AICPA-CIMA). I am also theme lead for Project X, a research initiative of the Infrastructure and Project Authority of the UK Government, aimed at improving the quality of delivery of UK Government’s Major Programmes Portfolio (GMPP).
In the past, I have informally advised the Italian Government on the desperate mission of reforming the Italian university system and I served as member of the agency involved in the first national research assessment (ANVUR).
I try to make my voice heard through media and blogs and I have written a diary of what it feels like being back to teach in Palermo after twenty years for the Corriere della sera.