Oriol Amat: Good accounts make good ethics

Oriol Amat is Professor of Economics at Barcelona's Pompeu Fabra University, of which he was also Rector. He is considered an expert in financial accounting, management control and corporate fraud. On September 20, the University of Montpellier had the pleasure of awarding him an honorary doctorate.

What if accounting could help change the world? In any case, this is what inspires the work of the charismatic Catalan professor Oriol Amat, who was awarded an honorary doctorate by the University of Montpellier on September 20. "It will come as no surprise to anyone who knows Oriol Amat that this professor of accounting has made ethics, sustainability and social responsibility his favorite themes," said Gerald Naro, Professor of Management Sciences at Montpellier Management, in his eulogy.

Alongside him on stage in the amphitheatre of the Richter student centre, Bernard Augé, senior lecturer at Montpellier Management, was also keen to sponsor the Spanish economist - and he's not the only one. " This sponsorship is a co-sponsorship with my colleagues and friends Professor Irene Georgescu and University vice-president Alexandre Vernhet," said Bernard Augé, prefacing his eulogy.

The five dimensions

The ceremony opened with a tune by Catalan composer Vincenç Bou, played by the duo Hors des sentiers battus. After introductory speeches by Philippe Augé, President of the University of Montpellier, and Sylvie Sammut, Director of Montpellier Management, Bernard Augé took the floor to recall Oriol Amat's academic career. " Throughout his career, Professor Oriol Amat has striven to balance the many dimensions of a university professorship, namely: contribution to research [...], teaching and knowledge transfer, commitment to professional practice, academic leadership and, finally, mentoring and inspiration. "  

His eminently brilliant career began in 1990 at the Autonomous University of Barcelona, where he defended a doctoral thesis in economics on the key success factors of cooperatives. In 1992, he took up a teaching post at Barcelona's Universitat Pompeu Fabra (UPF), an institution he never left and in which he held a number of positions, including Director of the Department of Economics and Business (2003-2005); Director of the Center for Quality and Innovation in Education (2006-2011); Dean of UPF's Barcelona School of Management (2018-2021) and Rector from 2021 to 2023. " His passion for imparting knowledge and commitment to students are evident in his exceptional pedagogical approach and rare ability to make complex subjects accessible to all [...] Oriol Amat is a passer of knowledge. "

A co-constructed master's degree

This long-standing collaboration with Montpellier Management has also given rise to the ISMAA master's degree, which stands for "International strategic management accounting and auditing". Bernard Augé explains: " It's a co-construction that encourages international work-study mobility . I think there are very few such programs in France, and we're one of only two or three examples. This master's degree is in partnership with the Barcelona School of Management, and would not have been possible, dear Oriol, without your support ".

Meaningful" research

While Oriol Amat stands out for his teaching skills, his aura also shines out in the field of research, as Gerald Naro explained. In a career spanning 30 years, the Catalan has authored numerous scientific articles in the most prestigious journals, including Journal of business ethics, European accounting review and European business review, as well as some 40 books translated into several languages, including La bouteille à moitié pleine : Apprendre des crises et de ceux qui l'ont amélioré (2020), Les entreprises qui mentent. Comment elles maquillent les comptes et comment le détecter avant qu'il ne soit trop tard (2019), or Revenu de base universel: analyse d'une proposition disruptive (2019). " I can't help but admire the volume and richness of your publications, which translate into an h-index index that would make many of our colleagues green with envy," declared the Montpellier-based professor.

Even more than quantity, it is Oriol Amat's research themes that attract attention, even from management science neophytes. A case in point is his work on corporate fraud and, in particular, on sincerity, a fundamental accounting principle which demonstrates that this discipline, far from being a simple exercise in quantification, also incorporates a behavioral dimension. " Your research activities are in direct contact with major societal issues [...] They are extremely meaningful and constitute what is now commonly referred to as impact research ", remarked Gerald Naro. More recently, Oriol Amat has turned his attention to the issue of sustainability in the field of management control, with a focus on tools known as balanced scorecards. These tools were designed by American Robert Kaplan, a professor at Harvard Business School, and developed by Oriol Amat for Barcelona Business School. 

Civic involvement

A direct grasp of " major societal issues " that the Catalan has reflected in his political and civic commitment, as Bernard Augé reminds us: " In addition to his academic work, Oriol Amat has been involved in the professional world as a consultant and advisor. He has been involved in numerous institutions and professional associations. This commitment enables him to effectively link business and theory ". In 2002, he founded the Catalan Accounting and Management Association. In 2011, he became a member of the Advisory Council for the Reactivation and Growth of Catalonia and Director of the National Securities Market Commission. These two mandates he will hold until 2015. In 2015, he was elected to the Parliament of Catalonia for two years. He has also been Dean of the College of Economists of Catalonia, member of the Advisory Board of the Barcelona Chamber of Commerce and member of the Spanish Academic Forum on Sustainable Finance, among others...

So, to the question: can accounting and management sciences really help change the world? Gérald Naro replies: "[Oriol Amat's work] shows us that accounting cannot be reduced to a neutral, apolitical technology [...] It represents and conveys the dominant values and ideology of a society; by participating in the creation and dissemination of a reality, it participates in the production of the world. [...] If we want to change the world, we have to change the way we count. The problem is to count what really counts.

These were followed by an inaugural lecture by Oriol Amat on the theme of "Accounting and control, past, present and future", which can be seen in the ceremony video.