CIGAR was co-founded in 1987 by James Chan (University of Illinois at Chicago), Rowan Jones (University of Birmingham) and Klaus Lüder (German University of Administrative Sciences Speyer). In 1991, the CIGAR acronym was used for the first time. In 1999, a Chair of the network was established, held by Klaus Lüder until he retired from Speyer in 2003. Rowan Jones was chair 2003-2009.
The academics who had hosted conferences and workshops up to 2009 - and ipso facto had been members of what was known as the core group - were: Aad Bac (University of Tilburg); Dietrich Budaeus (University of Hamburg); Ernst Buschor (University of St. Gallen); Eugenio Caperchione (University of Modena and Reggio Emilia); James Chan; Rowan Jones; Susana Jorge (University of Coimbra); Evelyne Lande (University of Poitiers); Klaus Lüder; Frode Mellemvik (Bodø Graduate School of Business); Norvald Monsen (Norwegian School of Economics and Business Administration); Vicente Montesinos (University of Valencia); Riccardo Mussari (University of Siena); Salme Näsi (University of Tampere); Kuno Schedler (University of St. Gallen); Jean-Claude Scheid (Conservatoire des Arts et Metiers); José-Manuel Vela (University of Valencia).
In 2009, a Board was created to succeed the work of the core group. The first chair of the Board was Eugenio Caperchione (University of Modena and Reggio Emilia). See further under 'CIGAR board members'.
CIGAR has taken four specific forms: first, the network has held Biennial Conferences since 1987; second, since 2003 also Biennial PhD seminars were organized; third, the network has held Biennial Workshops since 1992; and fourth, between 2001 and 2003, the network carried out a project to compare the government budgeting and accounting systems in nine European countries (Euro-CIGAR study).