Portrait of Professor Chris Cowton Professor Chris Cowton

c.j.cowton@hud.ac.uk | 01484 473061


Position: Professor of Financial Ethics
Qualifications: BA, MA, MScEcon, PhD, DLitt, ACIS, FHEA, FRSA


Chris Cowton is Professor of Financial Ethics (half-time), a role he assumed on stepping down as Dean at the end of September 2016.  At that point, he was the longest-serving Dean of a UK business school, having taken on the role in February 2008, after 12 years as Professor of Accounting at the University.  During the period of his leadership, the School doubled its turnover, significantly built its research profile with a successful submission to REF2014, increased its international activities – winning a Queen’s Award for Enterprise (International Trade) - and strengthened its links with the business world, all aided by a £17m state-of-the-art building, opened in 2010.

After graduating with first class honours from the University of Sheffield, Professor Cowton held posts at Aberystwyth and then Cardiff, before teaching for ten years at the University of Oxford. He returned to his native Yorkshire to become Professor of Accounting at the University of Huddersfield in 1996.

Chris has published extensively and is frequently invited to speak to academic and practitioner communities on business ethics, governance and research methods. He is internationally recognised for his contributions to business ethics, especially his pioneering work on financial ethics.  In 2013 he was awarded the University of Huddersfield’s first DLitt (Doctor of Letters, a higher doctorate) in recognition of his original and significant contribution to the advancement of knowledge in business and financial ethics.

From 1998 to 2001 he was Chair of EBEN-UK, the UK Association of the European Business Ethics Network, and he chaired the 13th Annual Conference of the European Business Ethics Network in Cambridge in 2000. He was selected to give the P.D. Leake Lecture at Chartered Accountants' Hall, London in May 2007, and for a decade he was Editor of the quarterly international journal Business Ethics: A European Review, published by Wiley-Blackwell. He has been a member of the Ethics Standards Committee of the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales since 2009.

During his career Chris has added several qualifications (on a part-time basis) to his first degree. He holds an MScEcon from the University of Wales, an MA (by Special Resolution) from the University of Oxford, a PhD from the University of Sheffield, his DLitt from the University of Huddersfield, and also a Graduate Diploma in Philosophy from the University of York. He is a qualified Chartered Secretary (ACIS), a Fellow of the Higher Education Academy (FHEA) and a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts (FRSA).

Research and Scholarship

Chris has undertaken a wide range of research projects and supervised many PhD students. In addition to quantitative and qualitative empirical research, his writings have also included conceptual and mathematical analyses. His publications range from philosophy to operations management, but much of his current research is focused on business and financial ethics. He is particularly well known for his writing on SRI/ethical investment, and he founded the Financial Ethics and Governance Research Group (FEGReG) at the University of Huddersfield.

Current areas of work include:

The ethics of trade credit. This research is being conducted with Dr Leire San Jose of the University of the Basque Country, Bilbao, Spain; Leire is also a Visiting Research Fellow of FEGReG. The research includes a conceptual ethical analysis (published in Journal of Business Ethics) of the delay in payments that firms make to their suppliers and empirical research into whether (a) signatories of prompt payment codes and (b) firms that are deemed to be ‘good’ according to other criteria are better payers.

The role of professionalism in improving business ethics. Drawing on his previous analysis – including the categorisation of professionals as gatekeepers, sector professionals and embedded professionals – he is exploring the possible contribution of professionalism to improving financial institutions.

The governance of not-for-profit (NFP) organisations, with a particular focus on the issues that arise as a result of pressures on NFPs to become more “business-like”.

Various writing projects with PhD students.

Publications and Other Research Outputs


Cowton, C. and San-Jos�, L. (2017) ‘On the Ethics of Trade Credit: Understanding Good Payment Practice in the Supply ChainJournal of business ethics , 140 (4), pp. 673-685. ISSN 1573-0697

Cowton, C (2017) ‘Virtue theory and accounting’. In: Handbook of Virtue Ethics in Business and Management. : Springer. pp. 1129-1140. ISBN 978-94-007-6509-2

Cowton, C (2017) ‘Socially responsible investing’. In: The Cambridge Handbook of Psychology and Economic Behaviour, 3rd Edition. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press. .

Cowton, C (2017) ‘ProfitAccounting, Auditing & Accountability Journal , 30 (5), pp. 1203-1203. ISSN 0951-3574


Cowton, C (2016) ‘Do we research the right things?EBEN España Newsletter .

Musbah, A., Cowton, C. and Tyfa, D. (2016) ‘The Role of Individual Variables, Organizational Variables and Moral Intensity Dimensions in Libyan Management Accountants’ Ethical Decision MakingJournal of Business Ethics , 134 (3), pp. 335-358. ISSN 0167-4544


Campbell, D. and Cowton, C. (2015) ‘Method issues in business ethics research: finding credible answers to questions that matterBusiness Ethics: A European Review , 24 (S1), p. S3-S10. ISSN 1467-8608

Cowton, C. and Downs, Y. (2015) ‘Use of focus groups in business ethics research: potential, problems and paths to progressBusiness Ethics: A European Review , 24 (S1), p. S54-S66. ISSN 1467-8608

Cowton, C. and Downs, Y. (2015) ‘Heated debates and cool analysis: thinking well about financial ethics’. In: The Philosophy, politics and economics of finance in the 21st century: From hubris to disgrace. London, UK: Routledge. pp. 439-452. ISBN 978-0-415-85901-1

Elmogla, M., Cowton, C. and Downs, Y. (2015) ‘Corporate Social Reporting in Libya: A Research NoteSocial Responsibility Journal , 11 (4), pp. 923-932. ISSN 1747-1117


Cowton, C (2014) ‘United Kingdom, Business Ethics in the’. In: The Wiley Encylopedia of Management, Third Edition. : Wiley. . ISBN 978-1-119-97251-8

Feather, D., Anchor, J. and Cowton, C. (2014) ‘Supervisors' perceptions of the value of the undergraduate dissertationInternational Journal of Management Education , 12 (1), pp. 14-21. ISSN 1472-8117

Cowton, C (2014) ‘Professional body buildingFinancial Accountant , 2014 (1), pp. 28-30. ISSN 1357-5449


Cowton, C. and Bampton, R. (2013) ‘Taking stock of accounting ethics scholarship: a review of the journal literatureJournal of business ethics , 114 (3), pp. 549-563. ISSN 1573-0697

Bampton, R., Cowton, C. and Downs, Y. (2013) ‘The e-interview in qualitative research’. In: Advancing social and business research methods with new media technology. Hershey, PA, USA: IGI Global. pp. 329-343. ISBN 9781466639188

Cowton, C (2013) ‘Accounting ethics’. In: International Encyclopedia of Ethics. Chichester: Wiley-Blackwell. . ISBN 9781444367072


Cowton, C (2012) ‘Time for an ethics stimulus package?Philosopher's magazine (59), pp. 19-20. ISSN 1354-814X

Cowton, C. and Avison, L. (2012) ‘UK audit committees and the Revised CodeCorporate Governance , 12 (1), pp. 42-53. ISSN 1472-0701


Cowton, C. and Sandberg, J. (2011) ‘Socially Responsible Investment’. In: Encyclopedia of Applied Ethics. London: Elsevier. pp. 142-151. ISBN 978-0-12-373632-1

San-Jose, L. and Cowton, C. (2011) ‘¿Es justo retrasar los pagos a los proveedores?Estrategia Financiera (288), pp. 62-69. ISSN 1130-8753

Willis, R. and Cowton, C. (2011) ‘Looks good on paper...Times Higher Education Supplement , p. 41. ISSN 0049-3929

Cowton, C (2011) ‘The moral status of the corporation, collective responsibility and the distribution of blame’. In: Business Ethics And Corporate Sustainability. Cheltenham: Edward Elgar. pp. 18-28. ISBN 978 1 84980 371 7

Anchor, J., Bene�ov�, M., Cowton, C. and Feather, D. (2011) Undergraduate dissertations and student performance in business studies and marketing, 2004-2009: evidence from an English business school Huddersfield: University of Huddersfield (Unpublished)

Cowton, C (2011) ‘Putting Creditors in Their Rightful Place: Corporate Governance and Business Ethics in the Light of Limited LiabilityJournal of business ethics , 102 (Supp 1), pp. 21-32. ISSN 1573-0697

Cowton, C (2011) Socially responsible investment [Video]


Cowton, C (2010) ‘Banking’. In: Finance Ethics: Critical Issues in Theory and Practice. Chichester: John Wiley & Sons. pp. 325-337. ISBN 978-0-470-49916-0


Cowton, C (2009) ‘Accounting and the ethics challenge: Re-membering the professional bodyAccounting and Business Research , 39 (3), pp. 177-190. ISSN 0001-4788

San-Jose, L. and Cowton, C. (2009) ‘El Crédito Comercial y la Crisis Crediticia: un Análisis Descriptivo en Europa; Reino Unido y España / The Trade Credit and Credit Crunch: a Descriptive Analysis in Europe, UK and Spain’. In: Administrando en entornos inciertos. : ESIC. p. 217. ISBN 9788473566094

Cowton, C (2009) ‘Banking on the banksInternational Accountant (47), pp. 13-15. ISSN 1465-5144

San-Jose, L. and Cowton, C. (2009) ‘Etika merkataritza kredituan: bertuteak eta ekimenakGogoa: Euskal Herriko Unibertsitateko Hizkuntza, Ezagutza, Komunikazio eta Ekintzari buruzko aldizkaria , 9 (1), pp. 93-110. ISSN 1577-9424

Cowton, C. and San-Jose, L. (2009) ‘Better payers? An empirical study of the trade credit practices of signatories of payment codes and members of FTSE4Good’. In: European Business Ethics Network (EBEN) UK, 6, 7 and 8 April 2009, Armada House Conference Centre, Bristol


Cowton, C (2008) ‘Governing the corporate citizen: reflections on the role of professionals’. In: Corporate citizenship, contractarianism and ethical theory: on philosophical foundations of business ethics. Aldershot: Ashgate. pp. 29-48. ISBN 9780754673835

Cowton, C., Brierley, J. and Drury, C. (2008) ‘Investigating activity-based costing in manufacturing industryCyprus International Journal of Management , 13 (1), pp. 21-33. ISSN 1450 0000

Cowton, C (2008) ‘On Setting the Agenda for Business Ethics Research’. In: Trends in Business and Economic Ethics. London: Springer. pp. 11-30. ISBN 978-3-540-79471-4

Cowton, C (2008) ‘Aileen Pierce, Ethics and the Professional Accounting Firm: A Literature Review , Institute of Chartered Accountants of Scotland, Edinburgh (2007) ISBN 1-904574-24-6 xiii+185pp., £15.00 or free pdf downloadBritish accounting review , 40 (2), pp. 193-194. ISSN 0890-8389

Brierley, J., Cowton, C. and Drury, C. (2008) ‘The application of product costs in pricing in British manufacturing industrySasin Journal of Management , 14 (1), pp. 4-14.

Cowton, C (2008) Coming (again) to SRI: a personal note Huddersfield, UK: Financial Ethics and Governance Research Group University of Huddersfield (Unpublished)


Cowton, C., Drury, C. and Brierley, J. (2007) ‘Product costing practices in different manufacturing industries: a British surveyInternational Journal of Management , 24 (4), pp. 667-675. ISSN 0813-0183

Cowton, C (2007) ‘Meeting the ethics challenge: prospects and proposals for promoting professional integrity’. In: The P D Leake Lecture 2007, 30th May 2007, Chartered Accountants' Hall


Cowton, C (2006) ‘Auditor independence and integrity in accounting firms’. In: Research methods for business students (4th edition). : Pearson Education. pp. 240-242. ISBN 9780273701484

Cowton, C (2006) ‘Editorial: Online production tracking through Author ServicesBusiness Ethics: A European Review , 15 (3), pp. 217-217. ISSN 1467-8608

Brierley, J., Cowton, C. and Drury, C. (2006) ‘A comparison of product costing practices in discrete-part and assembly manufacturing and continuous production process manufacturingInternational Journal of Production Economics , 100 (2), pp. 314-321. ISSN 0925-5273

Cowton, C., Drury, C. and Brierley, J. (2006) ‘A note on the importance of product costs in decision-making’. In: Advances in management accounting. : Elsevier. pp. 249-265. ISBN 9780762313525

Brierley, J., Cowton, C. and Drury, C. (2006) ‘The application of costs in make-or-buy decisions: an analysisInternational Journal of Management , 23, pp. 794-800. ISSN 0813-0183

Cowton, C (2006) ‘When the elephants came to townTimes Higher Education Supplement , 17th F. ISSN 0049-3929

Cowton, C., Drury, C. and Brierley, J. (2006) ‘Reasons for adopting different capacity levels in the denominator of overhead rates: a research noteJournal of Applied Management Accounting Research , 4 (2), pp. 53-62.


Cowton, C (2005) ‘Managing by Numbers’. In: Poetic Accounts: An Anthology of Accounting and Business Poetry. : Association of Chartered Certified Accountants. p. 77. ISBN 1-85908-416-8

Cowton, C. and Sparkes, R. (2005) ‘La Maturazione dell'investimento socialmente responsabile: una revisione del suo legame con la responsabilita sociale d'impresa’. In: Etica e Finanza, Persona,Impresse e Societa. : FrancoAngeli. pp. 222-244. ISBN 88-464-6790-6

Cowton, C (2005) ‘Animal instincts in the commercial jungle? Reflections on Peter Singer's Ethics in ActionBusiness Ethics A European Review , 14 (2), pp. 176-185. ISSN 0962-8770


Cowton, C. and Sparkes, R. (2004) ‘The maturing of socially responsible investment: a review of the developing link with corporate social responsibilityJournal of business ethics , 52 (1), pp. 45-57. ISSN 1573-0697

Cowton, C. and Thompson, P. (2004) ‘Bringing the environment into bank lending: implications for environmental reportingBritish accounting review , 36 (2), pp. 197-218. ISSN 0890-8389

Cowton, C (2004) ‘Managing financial performance at an ethical investment fundAccounting, auditing & accountability journal , 17 (2), pp. 249-275. ISSN 0951-3574

Cowton, C (2004) ‘Accounting Education for Sustainability’. In: The Sustainability Curriculum: The Challenge for Higher Education. : Earthscan. pp. 157-165. ISBN 1-85383-949-3

Low, C. and Cowton, C. (2004) ‘Beyond stakeholder engagement: the challenges of stakeholder participation in corporate governanceInternational journal of business governance and ethics , 1 (1), pp. 45-55. ISSN 1741-802X


Cowton, C. and Cummins, J. (2003) ‘Teaching business ethics in UK higher education: progress and prospectsTeaching business ethics , 7 (1), pp. 37-54. ISSN 1382-6891

Cowton, C. and Low, C. (2003) ‘The ethical ratings phenomenonNew Academy Review , 2 (3), pp. 91-95. ISSN 1476-7201


Cowton, C (2002) ‘Integrity, responsibility and affinity: three aspects of ethics in bankingBusiness Ethics: A European Review , 11 (4), pp. 393-400. ISSN 1467-8608

Cowton, C. and Bampton, R. (2002) ‘The teaching of ethics in management accounting: progress and prospectsBusiness Ethics: A European Review , 11 (1), pp. 52-61. ISSN 1467-8608

Cowton, C. and Dopson, S. (2002) ‘Foucault’s prison? Management control in an automotive distributorManagement accounting research , 13 (2), pp. 191-214. ISSN 1044-5005

Cowton, C. and Bampton, R. (2002) ‘Pioneering in ethics teaching: the case of management accounting in universities in the British IslesTeaching business ethics , 6 (3), pp. 279-295. ISSN 1382-6891

Cowton, C. and Low, C. (2002) ‘Ethical issues in purchasing’. In: The Gower handbook of purchasing management. Aldershot: Gower. pp. 223-235. ISBN 9780566084041

Cowton, C. and Bampton, R. (2002) ‘The e-interviewForum: qualitative social research/Forum qualitative sozialforschung , 3 (2). ISSN 1438-5627


Brierley, J., Cowton, C. and Drury, C. (2001) ‘Research into product costing practice: a European perspectiveEuropean Accounting Review , 10 (2), pp. 215-256. ISSN 0963-8180

Cowton, C (2001) ‘On two-by-two grids: or, the arkeology of management thoughtReason in practice: the journal of philosophy of management , 2 (1), pp. 47-51. ISSN 1473-589X

Cowton, C. and Thompson, P. (2001) ‘Financing the social economy: a case study of Triodos BankInternational journal of nonprofit and voluntary sector marketing , 6 (2), pp. 145-155. ISSN 1465-4520

Cowton, C., Bampton, R. and Trick, R. (2001) ‘Accounting for business: the ethical dimension’. In: Manazerska etika: inspirace pro 21 stoleti. : Nucleus HK. pp. 19-28. ISBN 8085378191

Brierley, J., Cowton, C. and Drury, C. (2001) ‘How product costs are calculated and used in decision making: a pilot studyManagerial auditing journal , 16 (4), pp. 202-206. ISSN 0268-6902


Cowton, C. and Drake, J. (2000) ‘General practice, special management?Clinician in management , 9 (3), pp. 129-131. ISSN 0965-5751

Cowton, C., Drake, J. and Thompson, P. (2000) ‘Charities’ bankers: an analysis of UK market sharesInternational Journal of Bank Marketing , 18 (1), pp. 42-47. ISSN 0265-2323

Cowton, C. and Trick, R. (2000) ‘Teaching business ethics: a British perspective’. In: Manazerská etika : inspirace pro 21 století. : Nucleus HK. pp. 21-27. ISBN 80862250809


Cowton, C. and Drake, J. (1999) ‘Went Fundholding, Going Commissioning? Some Evidence-Based Reflections on the Prospects for Primary Care GroupsPublic Money and Management , 19 (2), pp. 33-37. ISSN 1467-9302

Cowton, C. and Drake, J. (1999) ‘Taking the lead in fundholdingJournal of Management in Medicine , 13 (4), pp. 218-233. ISSN 0268-9235


Cowton, C (1990) ‘Bankers to CharityInternational Journal of Bank Marketing , 8 (1), pp. 35-39. ISSN 0265-2323


Cowton, C (1982) ‘Charities and company giving: Some reflectionsCharity Statistics , pp. 16-18.


Cowton, C (1981) ‘Company charitable giving: Practice and disclosureCharity Statistics , pp. 54-55.


Chris is an internationally known author and speaker on business and financial ethics. He was awarded the University of Huddersfield’s first DLitt (Doctor of Letters, a higher doctorate) for his work in this area.

Chris has given many keynote addresses and invited presentations, both in the UK and internationally. Recent subjects have included banking, ethics, professionalism, not-for-profit governance, research methods in business ethics and how to publish in refereed journals. In May 2007 he gave the P.D. Leake Lecture at Chartered Accountants’ Hall in London and he is a member of the Institute’s Ethics Standards Committee.  He has also contributed to various radio programmes, including BBC Radio Four’s ‘The Moral Maze’.

Chris was Editor of the leading international journal Business Ethics: A European Review, published by Wiley, from 2004 to 2013. He is a member of fifteen other editorial boards – including Corporate Governance: An International Review and Accounting, Auditing & Accountability Journal - and regularly reviews papers for major journals.

Chris is a member of many professional associations and from 1998 to 2001 he was Chair of EBEN-UK, the UK Association of the European Business Ethics Network. He also chaired the 13th Annual Conference of the European Business Ethics Network, held at Churchill College, Cambridge in September 2000.

Research Degree Supervision

Chris has supervised about 30 doctorates, as well as examining a similar number. He has limited opportunities to take on new PhD students at the present time, but he might be open to strong candidates in:

  • socially responsible/ethical investment
  • ethical banking/banking ethics
  • accounting ethics and professionalism
  • ethics of trade credit

Teaching and Professional Activities

Chris gives occasional guest lectures in his areas of research expertise.

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