Margaret Abernethy

Citation

After graduating Bachelor of Economics with first class honours from La Trobe University in 1983, Margaret (Maggie) Abernethy worked as a tutor, completing her PhD part-time. Her doctoral dissertation at La Trobe laid the groundwork for seminal contributions to the accounting literature on the management of professional workers and the structure and professionalisation of hospital administration. Thirty-one peer-reviewed journal articles and four book chapters later, Maggie Abernethy is one of three Australians in the top 100 across all fields of accounting. Currently ranked eighth in the world in managerial accounting with 5,652 citations to her credit, Maggie has an impressive H index of 25. She has attracted considerable research funding including the recent successful bid to establish a Centre for Corporate Governance and Regulation. Prestigious international editorial board appointments include senior editorships at two key journals – Contemporary Accounting Research and Management Accounting Research, along with membership of the editorial board of The Accounting Review and Journal of Management Accounting Research.  Maggie was editor of the leading Australian journal Accounting and Finance for the period 1999-2001 and is currently a member of the editorial boards of several Australian journals including Accounting and Finance, Abacus and the Australian Accounting Review.  Her international research reputation has secured her several prestigious visiting appointments overseas including Ferrara, Tilburg and Pablo de Olavide, Seville. Maggie is an excellent role model, supporter of junior faculty and supervisor whose responsiveness is outstanding. Fourteen of her publications have been jointly authored with doctoral students. In the last decade Maggie led the development of the Melbourne doctoral program. The program, which is benchmarked internationally, represents a fundamental shift in doctoral education in Australia with two years of advanced coursework, taught by leading local and international scholars, preceding the three-year doctoral research program. Maggie has held many leadership roles including Commissioner for the City of Monash, 1995-1997. She was appointed to the Arthur Anderson Chair of Accounting in the University of Melbourne in 1997 and has subsequently been Associate Dean (Research) between 1996-1998, Head of the Department of Accounting, 2000-2002 and, as holder of the Sidney Myer Chair of Commerce, Dean of the Faculty of Business and Economics from 2004 to 2012. Maggie was also appointed Chair of the University Expenditure Review Committee in 2006.  On her return to the Department of Accounting, Maggie Abernethy was appointed to the Sir Douglas Copland Chair of Commerce. Critical through Maggie’s years in senior management and academic positions has been her focus on providing opportunities for both the best students, and those suffering disadvantage. This has been accomplished through the establishment of several endowed scholarship programs. In 2008 Maggie Abernethy was named Telstra Business Woman of the Year for the Community and Government sector in recognition of her contribution to higher education.  In 2012 she was elected as a Fellow of the Australian Academy of Social Sciences – a highly prestigious appointment recognising intellectual contributions to the accounting discipline.

The Australian Accounting Hall of Fame recognises Maggie Abernethy as a scholar, mentor and senior administrator of the highest order.

Biography

Born in Saskatchewan, Canada, Margaret (Maggie) Abernethy came to Australia to teach accounting and typing.  After graduating Bachelor of Economics with first class honours from La Trobe University in 1983, Maggie worked as a tutor and completed her PhD part-time under the supervision of Professor Rob Chenhall (AAHoF 2014) and Professor Helen Paterson. Her dissertation laid the groundwork for seminal contributions to the accounting literature on the management of professional workers and the structure and professionalisation of hospital administration.  This work was published in leading scholarly journals and the hospital administration literature.

In 1989 she was appointed as a Senior Lecturer at Monash University, and then as Reader at University of Melbourne in 1993.  In 1997 Maggie was appointed the Arthur Anderson Chair of Accounting, later to hold the Sidney Myer Chair of Commerce and currently the Sir Douglas Copland Chair of Commerce.

Maggie has published 31 peer-reviewed journal articles, four book chapters and six papers in professional journals.  Importantly, 14 out of the peer-reviewed papers have been published in premier journals in the accounting discipline.   Based on the Brigham Young University. Ranking, Maggie is one of three Australians in the top 100 across all fields of accounting. She is ranked eighth in the world in managerial accounting with a H-index of 25 based on citation counts of her publications. In total 5,652 citations are attributed to her.

Maggie has attracted $2.8 million in research funding, always working in teams, and using her grant funding to facilitate the work of junior colleagues and doctoral students. Most recently Maggie led the successful bid for a grant of $1.78 million to establish a Centre for Corporate Governance and Regulation. This initiative is modelled on the Stanford Centre for Corporate Governance and reflects her energy, capacity for influence, concern with contemporary issues of relevance to the broader economic community, and devotion to the future of the discipline and the Department of Accounting at the University of Melbourne.

Maggie holds prestigious international editorial board appointments.  She is currently a senior editor at two key journals – Contemporary Accounting Research and Management Accounting Research – and is a member of the editorial Board of The Accounting Review and Journal of Management Accounting Research, as well as several other journals. Maggie was editor of the leading Australian journal Accounting and Finance for the period 1999-2001, and is currently a member of the editorial Boards of several Australian journals including Accounting and Finance, Abacus and the Australian Accounting Review.

Maggie’s international research reputation has secured her several prestigious visiting appointments overseas.  She has held long-standing appointments at University of Ferrara, Tilburg University and University Pablo de Olavide in Seville, as well as several other short-term appointments.

Particularly notable is Maggie’s commitment to capacity building in others.  She is an excellent role model and supporter of junior faculty and an exceptional supervisor whose responsiveness to her students is outstanding. Fourteen of her publications have been jointly published with her doctoral students.  Her contributions in this regard are both direct through her supervision and support of her students and junior faculty, her willingness to form research teams facilitated by grant funding, and through her structural leadership in the discipline, faculty and department.

In the last decade Maggie was heavily involved the development of a doctoral program that is benchmarked internationally. The program contains two years of advanced coursework and three years of dissertation research and is taught by leading scholars both locally and internationally. As a consequence, students have the opportunity to take advantage of exchange opportunities at leading international schools as part of their program.

Maggie has held many leadership roles during her career including Commissioner for the City of Monash in 1995-1997. At the University of Melbourne she has been Associate Dean (Research) for two years 1996-1998, Head of the Department of Accounting from 2000 to 2002 and Dean of the Faculty of Business and Economics (then Economics and Commerce) from 2004 to 2012. Her skills in financial management saw her appointed by the Vice Chancellor as Chair of the University-level Expenditure Review Committee in 2006.  As Dean she established an Industry Board and the Alumni Council within the Faculty.

Critical through Maggie’s years in senior management and academic positions has been her focus on providing opportunities for both the best students, and those suffering disadvantage.  She established a foundation to provide financial support for those in need and to ensure that students have the best possible learning experience while studying at the University. Maggie also helped to develop numerous initiatives to support student experience including case competitions and business practicums that continue to this day.  The Abernethy Leadership Scholarship, funded by donations from members of the Faculty’s Industry Board, encourages students to contribute to leadership in the community during their time at the University. The Abernethy Scholar Program was also established for those students who receive a scholarship under the University’s Access and Equity Scheme.  Maggie is directly involved with every cohort of Abernethy Scholars, and mentors all students in the program. She has also been a foundation member of the board of the Campaign for Melbourne, Melbourne University Sports and MBS Ltd.

Two major awards encapsulate Maggie’s contributions to the Education Sector, the University and the discipline of Accounting. In 2008 she was named Telstra Business Woman of the Year for the Community and Government sector in recognition of her contribution to higher education.  In 2012 she was appointed to the Australian Academy of Social Sciences – a highly prestigious appointment recognising intellectual contributions to the Accounting discipline.