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Academic Profile Dr Rexford Attah-Boakye 

Green accounting for an equitable future 

Dr Rexford Attah-Boakye is Associate Professor in Accounting in the Faculty of Management Law and Social Sciences. His research looks at accounting through the lens of sustainability, entrepreneurship and equity. He is also co-organising the first Ghana Scholarly Society conference at the University of Bradford in June 2024, so caught up with him to find out more.

Can you tell us about your background, and what motivated you to come to Bradford? 

My first degree was in Accounting at a prestigious university in Ghana, and then I spent a while in industry as Head of Audit at a fast-growing community bank in Ghana. I was privileged to be there at the start to set up the audit department, and looking at the bank’s systems gave me the opportunity to interact with a wide range of people from that sector, including management, employees and clients. Through these conversations I got a different perspective about their world – my focus as an accountant was on profits, but I was motivated to think about factors like service, efficiency, and very practical things like poverty, which in Africa is a big issue. I was inspired to learn more about these divergent views regarding business profits and social systems and this led to my PhD. 

After completing my PhD, I worked at Hull, Coventry and Nottingham Universities before I came to Bradford, which was recommended to me by Dr Kweku Adams, another Ghanaian academic, who I had collaborated with previously. I was impressed by the diversity and sense of community on campus. This seemed aligned with my research interest into emerging economies as I get the opportunity to engage with students coming from these regions. 

Profile picture of Dr Rexford Attah-Boakye

Dr Rexford Attah-Boakye

Can you describe your research focus?  

I want to pioneer the issue of green accounting. It's something that sounds contradictory because accounting is about company performance with a focus on profits, but I want to champion environmental accountability in the way companies operate. Profits have to be equitable, and not at the expense of the environment. Unfortunately, that is not the case at the moment - for example, the top ten countries in the world actually produce 62% of the global CO2 emissions, but the top ten African countries produce less than 0.03%, and that is definitely reflective of the global inequity of resources.  

As part of my response to this I want to use the Ghana Scholarship platform to help a lot more students from minority ethnic backgrounds to enter into academia. So we are now recruiting lecturers and PhD students, particularly those looking at green accounting, and we want to bring in a lot more master’s students. 

How does your research align with the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals? 

My focus has been mainly on the on the SDG #5 (Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls) looking at female inclusion at the top of most multinational organisations from national level down to institutional level. 

I’m also interested in SDG #9 (Build resilient infrastructure, promote inclusive and sustainable industrialization and foster innovation), SDG #10, Reduce inequality within and among countries, and that is one key thing that I'm driving on, plus #12 Ensure sustainable consumption and production patterns and #13 Take urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts.  Although five different SDG goals may seem like a wide range, I try to bring in some aspect of policy initiative that can support these particular SDG goals in any work I do.

Can you talk about entrepreneurship in your research? 

In my new research, we are looking at entrepreneurs from emerging economies and how that can drive growth and sustainable innovation. Entrepreneurship is one key driver of economic growth. Research has shown that most countries that focus on research and development, such as Japan, are slowing down in terms of growth, but countries that are emphasising entrepreneurship and small businesses, like China, are showing more growth. In fact, in China, there are thousands of people becoming millionaires every day, and I’ve been monitoring these trends using the global entrepreneurship monitor (GEM) scheme, a massive database that covers a range of emerging economies. 
I’m looking at the drivers of the growth of entrepreneurship - the motivations, fears, and attitudes of these entrepreneurs and then use that as a benchmark to address some of the reasons for failures in other countries, and hopefully replicate success which comes back to SDG #10, to reduce inequality among countries. 

A photo of Dr Rexford Attah-Boakye in front of some display boards at the Africa Quantitative Risk Conference

Dr Attah-Boakye was a keynote speaker at the first Africa Quantitative Risk Conference held in Accra University of Professional Studies in August 2019.

Can you tell us about the forthcoming Ghanaian academic conference you’re involved in organising? 

The idea came when Kweku Adams called me as he was thinking about doing an association of Ghanaian academics. I'd had similar thoughts myself, and from an initial meeting of 10 people, we’re now at 180 academics across the world who will be attending the conference on campus in June, which will be the first of its kind. We’ll be looking at various issues regarding emerging economies, sustainability, entrepreneurship and we have academics with expertise in science, economics, accounting, management, law, pharmacy and more. The ultimate goal is to create a coherent vision that we can take to the Ghanaian government to demonstrate that we can partner in national debates and policy making. We want to use Ghana as a template for this noble idea, and once applied, we will be able to replicate the good practice in other emerging economies which have a lot to offer the world.

Find out more

You can find Rexford on LinkedIn, and see more about his publications on Google Scholar.

He was also featured on Ghana National Television during the inaugural Africa Quantitative Risk Conference in Accra in August 2019.