Robert Chenhall is internationally renowned for his significant and sustained contribution over forty years to the discipline of management accounting and his outstanding research record has significantly advanced the understanding of the discipline. Robert's academic career was founded on an Economics degree from Monash University, a Masters degree from the University of Southampton and doctoral studies at Macquarie University. Professorial positions at La Trobe and Monash followed and were complemented by visiting appointments at leading academic institutions in Europe and the US. Robert Chenhall's research agenda has been driven by a willingness to innovate and embrace new ideas and methodologies in the pursuit of academic excellence. He pioneered the use of contingency theory with work focusing on examining how practices such as performance measurement systems and activity-based costing assist organisations in gaining strategic advantage and improved performance. This involved considering how management accounting is implicated in managing various aspects of the value chain such as outsourcing, supply chains, production processes and customer relationships. The implications for the design of management accounting for contemporary issues in management such as team-based structures, trust and organisational learning were also explored. More recently he pioneered research in the area of management control systems in non-government organisations, specifically linking social capital and management control systems, and examining the role of management control systems in developing compromises within organisations. The quality and standing of Robert Chenhall's work is best characterised by its impact on the overall advancement of the discipline. His work is almost always published in the leading scholarly journals and is widely cited by other scholars. Several key publications have each been cited on more than one hundred occasions. He has been regularly ranked amongst the top ten management accounting researchers internationally over the last two decades and is the world's leading researcher using survey and field study methods. This level of recognition has also brought with it multiple invitations to serve on the editorial boards of several of the top tier journals. Robert has also been heavily involved in the training and supervision of doctoral students along with participation in leading doctoral seminars in Europe and Australia. Service to the profession has not been ignored as he served on the Research Committee of CPA Australia for many years. In 2009 he received the Outstanding Contribution to Research Award of the Accounting and Finance Association of Australian and New Zealand. In 2011 he received a Lifetime Contribution award to Management Accounting Research by the American Accounting Association. On retirement from Monash University Robert Chenhall was bestowed with the title Emeritus Professor.
The Australian Accounting Hall of Fame honours Robert Chenhall as an innovative researcher and thinker of the highest order. In doing so it recognises his extraordinary impact on the discipline of management accounting.
Professor Robert Chenhall is internationally renowned for his significant and sustained contribution to the field of management accounting.
Over an academic career spanning more than forty years, he has published a substantial number of papers in the top-tier accounting journals and is known internationally for his innovative and influential research.
Rob's research is highly cited and over the past 20 years he has held many ARC Discovery and Linkage Grants. He has a strong reputation as a mentor of junior management accounting researchers both in Australia and overseas and has been a frequent contributor to a range of doctoral workshops across Europe.
Rob began his career with a Bachelor of Economics from Monash University and after working in the banking industry moved to the UK. In 1972 he graduated with a Master of Science from Southampton University. He was a lecturer at Sheffield University from 1971 to 1973 before returning to Australia to work at Macquarie University where he completed his doctoral studies. He remained at Macquarie University until 1984 before taking up a professorial position at La Trobe University in 1985. In 1988 he was appointed Professor of Accounting at Monash University. Over his career he has held a range of visiting appointments including the London School of Economics, INSEAD, Naval Postgraduate School, and Aarhus Business School. On his retirement from Monash University in 2012 Rob Chenhall was appointed Emeritus Professor.
What is unique about Rob's research is that although he has been publishing for more than thirty years the quality and quantity of his research steadily increased. Throughout this long period he maintained his energy for and commitment to innovative research. The focus and approach of his research evolved to accommodate new ways of thinking and new research approaches. He was an early adopter of new methodologies in the field of management accounting research including cluster analysis and partial least squares modelling. He was also active in incorporating new bodies of literature, theories and concepts in his papers such as social capital and 'compromising accounts'. Those who have worked with him as co-authors have benefited from his drive, creativity and commitment to excellence.
In the 1980s he pioneered the application of contingency theory to management accounting research. His subsequent work focused on examining how practices such as performance measurement systems and activity-based costing assist organisations in gaining strategic advantage and improved performance. This involved considering how management accounting is implicated in managing various aspects of the value chain such as outsourcing, supply chains, production processes and customer relationships. The implications for the design of management accounting for contemporary issues in management such as team-based structures, trust and organisational learning were also explored. More recently he pioneered research in the area of management control systems in non-government organisations, specifically linking social capital and management control systems, and examining the role of management control systems in developing compromises within organisations.
Rob's research is always of the highest quality with most of his papers published in leading international journals. His important critical review papers have been and continue to be widely cited. Rob has published forty-six papers and eleven books and chapters. Within his extensive list of publications, nineteen have appeared in the elite journals. Notably, he has had eleven papers published in Accounting, Organizations and Society (AOS) and two in The Accounting Review (TAR). Over the past ten years, several of Rob's papers have been listed among the top twenty-five downloaded papers from AOS. This speaks to the quality and impact of his work. His 1998 AOS paper with Kim Langfield-Smith, The Relationship Between Strategic Priorities, Management Techniques and Management Accounting: An Empirical Investigation Using a Systems Approach was awarded the "Anbar Citation of Excellence, Highest Quality Ranking". It is still listed on the Elsevier website as one of the Top 25 downloads for this journal having been cited on 129 occasions. His 2003 single-authored AOS paper Management Control Systems Design Within its Organizational Context: Findings from Contingency Modelling and Directions for Future Research has been cited on 370 occasions and his 2005 paper Integrative Strategic Performance Measurement Systems, Strategic Alignment Of Manufacturing, Learning and Strategic Outcomes: An Exploratory Study in the same journal cited 156 times. His 1986 TAR paper with David Morris, The Impact of Structure, Environment and Interdependence on the Perceived Usefulness of Management Accounting Systems has an outstanding 683 citations.
Rob has also contributed greatly to the development of research in management accounting through his many activities relating to doctoral education. He has supervised several research students who now have their own international reputations and over many years he has been a key contributor to the EIASM EDEN Doctoral Seminar on Quantitative Empirical Research in Management Accounting. It is through this workshop, held every two years in Brussels that Rob has influenced new generations of management accounting researchers.
He has also been responsible for the design and delivery of a variety of other doctoral courses and events across Europe and in Australia. Rob has actively seized the opportunity that such events offer to share his expertise, knowledge, and enthusiasm for management accounting research with new researchers. It is in his interactions and interventions in these and other forums that his citizenship and generous nurturing of the scholarly management accounting community shines through.
In addition to his extensive publication list Rob has held membership of at least twelve editorial boards of leading international journals including Accounting, Organizations and Society, Journal of Management Accounting Research, Management Accounting Research, and Behavioral Research in Accounting. He has been an Associate Editor of the Journal of Management Accounting Research. Many prestigious research awards have come his way and he has received frequent invitations to be a keynote speaker at a wide variety of international conferences. In the 2012 Brigham Young University rankings of accounting researchers, Rob was ranked among the top ten management accounting researchers in the world over the last 6, 12 and 20 years. He is the only Australian to achieve this status. He was also ranked number one in the world of those management accounting researchers who use survey and field study methods over this same period, a remarkable achievement. In 2009, he received the Outstanding Contribution to Research Award of AAFANZ (the Accounting and Finance Association of Australian and New Zealand). At that time there had been only five other winners of this award. In 2011, Rob was successfully nominated for the 2012 Lifetime Contribution Award from the Management Accounting Section of the American Accounting Association. He is only the second non-American (and the only Australian) to have received this award.
His successful nomination was accompanied by letters from eminent international management accounting scholars who willingly provided their support. Included in this group were the late Anthony Hopwood (Oxford University and founding editor of Accounting, Organizations and Society), Mike Shields (Michigan State University), Chris Ittner (The Wharton School), Kari Lukka (University of Turku), Frank Moers (Maastricht University), and Ken Merchant (University of Southern California).
Rob has also contributed to the broader accounting profession, business and government. In the 1990s, Rob became involved in the establishment of INSITE Connect (initially named the Australian Centre for Management Accounting Development (ACMAD)) at the University of New South Wales. INSITE Connect was an industry-based group established to promote best practice in management accounting by creating networks of practitioners, educators and organisations developing formal education programs and sponsoring industry-relevant research. He was the Victorian Director for most of the 1990s. Rob served for many years on CPA Australia's Research Committee and on other committees of the profession. He has chaired the American Accounting Association's Outstanding Publication Award committee for management accounting. He is an international assessor for the Australian Research Council, and has provided consulting services to many Australian organisations and the Victorian Government. He has been an expert witness on legal cases in relation to costing and economic issues.
Over the course of a long career Rob has significantly advanced the knowledge of the discipline of management accounting through his outstanding research. He has had a significant impact on junior researchers and those colleagues who have worked with him. His contributions can be summed up in a comment from the late Anthony Hopwood:
"It is difficult to think of anyone else who has done more to take forward the systematic study of the organisational and wider factors that shape the design and form of accounting and control systems in organisations."