Professor Frank Birkin

Management School

Professor of Accounting for Sustainable Development
+44 114 222 3452

Full contact details

Professor Frank Birkin
Management School
Room C080
Sheffield University Management School
Conduit Road
S10 1FL

The aim of my research is to account for sustainable development. Whilst a key objective of this research is the development and implementation of practical forms of accounting for use by managers in a variety of institutions, the aim proves to be very wide-ranging for it embraces social, environmental and traditional forms of accounting as well as engineering, scientific, economic, social, philosophical and policy aspects of sustainable development.

This is because the development of accounting for sustainable development requires conceptual, cultural, technical and political changes.

My theoretical approach is rare amongst accounting theorists since I employ in essence a scientific realist rather than social constructivist understanding.

Research interests

I have both developed and applied my theoretical understanding in new practical management and accounting tools for sustainable development.

For example, I won £300k+ European Union funding for an international project to develop a first account of the sustainable development performance of island tourism, Sustainable Tourism’s Environmental Protection System (STEPS) for islands.

Also in close collaboration with Sheffield University’s Department of Civil Engineering, a team of environmental accounts of which I was a leading member have won over £1 million from the EPSRC for a series of projects relating to fresh and grey water management in the UK.

My research has been published in wide-ranging international journals from Critical Perspectives on Accounting and the British Accounting Review to Business Strategy and the Environment and the International Journal of World Ecology and Sustainable Development.

Recognition of my work has resulted in several international key-note speaker invitations, an invitation from the European Commission to participate in the development of a proposed service-sector eco-label and the co-hosting of a European conference on sustainable tourism in Venice with guest speakers from the European Commission, the United Nations Environment Programme, World Tourism Organisation, World Wide Fund for Nature as well as the national Italian environmental agency.



Journal articles


  • Monkhouse LL (2019) Can Vietnamese traditional values drive ‘sustainability’? An Emic perspective In Birkin F & Polesie T (Ed.), Intrinsic Capability: Implementing Intrinsic Sustainable Development for an Ecological Civilisation (pp. 86-101). World Scientific View this article in WRRO RIS download Bibtex download
  • Birkin F & Polesie T (2019) A REFLECTION, Intrinsic Capability (pp. 199-203). WORLD SCIENTIFIC RIS download Bibtex download
  • Birkin F & Polesie T (2019) Introduction, Intrinsic Capability: Implementing Intrinsic Sustainable Development for an Ecological Civilisation (pp. 1-14). RIS download Bibtex download
  • Birkin FK & Mingyue F (2018) Business and the Emerging Ecological Civilization In Borland H, Lindgreen A, Vanhamme J, Maon F, Ambrosini V & Florencio B (Ed.), Business Strategies for Sustainability Routledge RIS download Bibtex download

Conference proceedings papers

  • Monkhouse L & Birkin F (2019) Traditional cultures for multiple values and enhanced sustainability: a case study of Vietnam. The 25th International Sustainable Development Research Conference, Nanjing, China, June 2019 View this article in WRRO RIS download Bibtex download
Research group

PhD supervision

  • Environmental and Social Accounting
  • Environmental Management Accounting
  • Accounting for Sustainable Development
  • Episteme change analysis

Building capacities for corporate environmental management: a study of experiences in the Yunnan and Jiangsu provinces of the People’s Republic of China. EUROPEAID/117860/C/G 2006 - 2007 Universities of Sheffield, Barcelona, Kunming & Nanjing. £284210

STEPS (Sustainable Tourism’s Environmental Protection System) for Islands EU Fondazione Eni Enrico Mattei, Milan 1999 - 2001 £310000

Preventative Environmental Management for Small Enterprises (PREMISE) EU DGXII Environment Sheffield University, Kruger Consult, University of Lisbon, Institute of Ecological Economics Vienna. 1994 - 1996 £470,000 ECU

Teaching interests

I have taught on a wide range of courses at undergraduate and post-graduate levels in accounting and business management.

The modules I have taught include management accounting, social and organisational aspects of accounting, financial strategy and business administration.

Much of my teaching derives directly from my research interests such as social and environmental accounting, environmental management accounting and accounting for sustainability. I have supervised ten PhD students.

Professional activities

Recent invited papers and keynote Lectures

  • "Intrinsic Sustainable Development & the role of accounting"
  • Invited talk at Gothenburg University (2012), Uppsala University (2012), American University of Sharjah (2013), Universidad Pablo de Olivade (2013), Universiddade Federal do Rio de Janeiro (2013), University of Montpellier (2013) & University of Burgos (2013).