Professor Bill Lee


Room: B047
Phone: +44 (0)114 222 3473
Professor Bill Lee photograph  

After working in industry for a number of years, I returned to full-time education to read for a BSc (Hons) in Sociology with Research Training and a subsequent PhD on “The cost conflicts of flexible manufacturing”, both at the University of Bath. My PhD thesis married together sociology with engineering and accounting and was the first of a number of research projects involving accounting that has contributed to my transfer from working in departments of sociology to working in accounting divisions. My employment in accounting divisions has included an initial period of twelve years as first a lecturer and then a senior lecturer in the Accounting and Financial Management Group at the University of Sheffield, a year as a professor of accounting at Keele University and the period since the 1st September 2012 as a professor of accounting at the University of Sheffield.

During my two spells at Sheffield, I have taken on a number of administrative and managerial roles including being Director of the Accounting and Financial Management undergraduate programme, Director of the MSc in Finance and Accounting and Director of the Doctoral Programme. When I had a year away from Sheffield, as a professor of accounting at Keele Management School, I was Subject Leader of the Accounting Group and a member of the Senior Management Team. I was also Head of the Accounting and Financial Management Division and a member of the School’s Executive here at Sheffield for 3+ years. During that time, I was instrumental in doubling the size of the division to ensure that it had the number of colleagues necessary to deliver its programmes, I oversaw the introduction of a new Masters programme in Accounting, Governance and Financial Management and I led the establishment – and was the inaugural director – of a research centre, the Centre for Research into Accounting and Finance in Context (CRAFiC).


I lead the Corporate Governance module and the Research Methods for Finance and Accounting module on the Accounting and Financial Management Division’s Masters programmes. Since returning to Sheffield, I have also taught Financial Management and Issues on Corporate Governance on the undergraduate Accounting and Financial Management programme and Management Accounting on the postgraduate programmes. Previously, I have taught Principles of Accounting, Management Accounting, Case Studies in Accounting and Financial Management at undergraduate level and Qualitative Research Methods on the post-graduate research programme.

Broader community service

I have held a number of positions in the broader academic community. I was Vice Chair responsible for special interest groups (SIGs), a member of the Executive and a trustee of the British Academy of Management (BAM) for the duration of 2014. I was a member of the national Council of BAM for the period 2013-2015, a member of the Executive of the Committee of Professors in Accounting and Finance for the period 2014-2015 and a member of the Awards Committee of BAM for the period 2015-2016. I have also served on the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC)’s peer review college and reviewed grant applications to other bodies such as the Chartered Institute of Management Accountants as well as for a number of non-UK governmental bodies. I have also completed the training to be an Athena-Swan panellist. I have helped to establish a number of community-based communities including the BAM Research Methodology SIG and the European Academy of Management (EURAM) Research Methods and Research Practice strategic interest group. I was the inaugural secretary of the former and the inaugural chair of the latter. I remain a member of the steering committee of both.

Editing responsibilities

I am an associate editor for Qualitative Research in Organizations and Management: An International Journal and of the European Management Review (EMR). In EMR I have established a new section, “Methodology Matters”, which I edit to provide a peer-reviewed outlet for articles that make a methodological contribution. I am also on the editorial board of Qualitative Research in Financial Markets. I also conceived and edit – with Mark Saunders of Birmingham University in the UK and VK Narayanan of Drexel University in the USA – the Sage Mastering Business Research Methods series of books.


I have published on a wide range of topics across the accounting, management and related disciplines including articles on the relationship between accounting and technological change, the professional socialization of junior auditors and the origins and history of qualitative research in accounting. My enduring research interests are those that allow me to combine the interests from my own education with my position in accounting. My research in recent years has tended to focus on two broad areas: Research Methods and Research Practice; and the intersection of accounting and accountability with the organization of work, opportunities for learning and government support of learning initiatives. More recently, I have also developed a research interest in credit unions.

As well as publishing articles and edited collections in the area of research methods and research practice, I have received grants from the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales, the Economic and Social Research Council and the Higher Education Academy to organize conferences and seminars and to disseminate knowledge about research methods. As well as publishing in the area of the intersection between accounting and accountability on the one hand and the organization of work, opportunities for learning and government support of learning initiatives on the other hand, I have received a number of grants to conduct international comparisons of the relationship between learning initiatives and forms of accountability. Most recently, I have held a grant from the British Academy to conduct a comparative study of credit unions in the UK and New Zealand.

PhD Supervision

I am keen to supervise students who wish to conduct qualitative research studies in the areas of management accounting, public sector accounting, social accounting and accountability.

Recent Publications

Journal Articles

Lee, B. (2015): “The handicap of lists, QROM and the future”, in Qualitative Research in Organizations and Management: An International Journal, Volume 10, Issue 4, pp 350-354. Available on line at

Lee, B. (with John Brierley) (2017): “UK Government Policy, Credit Unions and Payday Loans”, in International Journal of Public Administration, Volume 40, Issue 4, pp 348-360. Available on line at

Lee, B. (with Catherine Cassell) (2017): “Facilitative reforms, democratic accountability, social accounting and learning representative initiatives” in Critical Perspectives on Accounting, Volume 46, pp 24-37. Available on line at

Lee, B. (with Catherine Cassell) (2017): “Understanding translation work: The evolving interpretation of a trade union idea”, in Organization Studies, Volume 38, Issue 8, pp 1085-1106. Available on line at

Lee, B. (with John A. Brierley) (2018): “Examining the disclosures on the websites of English credit unions”, in Public Money & Management, Volume 38, Number 3, pp. 185-192. Available on line at

Lee, B. (2018): “A New Forum for Advancing Understanding of Research Methods and Practice” in European Management Review, Volume 15, Issue 2, pp 201-204. Available on line at

Book Contributions

Lee, B. (with Catherine Cassell) (2016): “The impact of share announcements on market analysts’ behaviour” in M.N.K. Saunders, P. Lewis and A. Thornhill Research Methods for Business Students, 7th edition, Harlow: FT Prentice Hall.

Lee, B. (with Christopher Humphrey) (2017): “Case studies in accounting research.” Forthcoming in Z. Hoque, L. Parker, M. Covaleski & K. Haynes (eds.): The Routledge Companion to Qualitative Accounting Research Methods, chapter 10, pp 163-183, London: Routledge.

Lee, B. (with Usman Aslam) (2018): “Towards the wholesome interview: Technical, social and political dimensions.”, in C. Cassell, A. Cunliffe & G. Grandy (eds.): The SAGE Handbook of Qualitative Business and Management Research Methods: Methods and Challenges, London: Sage Publications, pp. 102-116.

Lee, B. (2018): “Developing Research Ideas.” in M.N.K. Saunders & K. Townsend (eds.): How to Keep Your Research Project on Track, Edward Elgar Publishers: Cheltenham, pp. 11-27.

Lee, B. (with Mark Saunders) (forthcoming) “Case Study Research in Business and Management” in Paul Atkinson, Sara Delamont, Melissa Hardy and Malcolm Williams (eds.): SAGE Encyclopedia of Research Methods, Sage Publications.

Lee, B. (Forthcoming): “The relationship between risk and return in loan decisions at credit unions” in M.N.K. Saunders, P. Lewis and A. Thornhill Research Methods for Business Students, 8th edition, Harlow: FT Prentice Hall.


Lee, B. (with Mark Saunders) (2017): Conducting Case Study Research for Business and Management Students, London: Sage Publications. Further details available at:


Lee, B. (with Catherine Cassell) (2015): "Understanding Translation Work in the Multi-organizational Translation of Ideas" in Academy of Management [Best Paper] Proceedings 2015 2015:1 11945, doi 10.5465/AMBPP.2015.207.

Lee, B. (with John A. Brierley) (2017): Inside the Credit Union Capital of Britain, Sheffield: Learning Representatives Research Group. Available to download from:

Full list of publications in REF period 2008-2013