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Accounting Forum 33 (2009) 110
Financial accounting: Past, present and future
1. Introduction
!is special issue of Accounting Forum s!ares t!e commonl" e#pressed $ie% t!at &no%ledge of t!e past is useful
in informing t!e present ('o!nson, 19(), p* ++, Par&er, 19-1, Pre$its, Par&er, . /offman, 1990a, 19900, 1ame",
19)2, p* 13)* !us, !istor" is seen as !a$ing t!e potential to increase understanding of t!e nature of financial
reporting toda", and of t!e c!allenges t!at it faces, t!roug! anal"sis of its interactions in ot!er eras* 3elief in t!e
efficac" of accounting !istor" as a means of addressing current issues reflects t!e gro%ing status of t!e su04ect since
t!e landmar& pu0lication in 19)2 of Studies in the History of Accounting 0" 5ittleton . 1ame"* !is compilation
of &e"note articles 0" t%o suc! distinguis!ed sc!olars !elped to legitimise accounting !istor" as an academic
discipline and set t!e standard for future researc! (Par&er . 1ame", 199+, pp* +))* 6n particular, t!ere !as 0een a
surge of interest in accounting !istor" since t!e 19-0s %it! t!e num0er of aut!ors and outlets multipl"ing (7ldro"d,
8/ritical9 researc!ers !a$e pla"ed a &e" part in t!is mo$ement, %it! aut!ors suc! as 3urc!ell, /lu00, :op%ood,
:ug!es, . ;a!apiet (19-0), <iller . ;apier (1993) and Funnell (199-) c!allenging our understanding of 8%!at
counts as accounting9 and t!e 8arenas9 in %!ic! it operates* !e rationale underl"ing t!is t"pe of researc! is t!at t!e
role of accounting in societ" is %idening %it! impro$ed information, communications and sur$eillance tec!nolog",
c!anges in t!e pu0lic sector and t!e e#pansion of t!e accounting profession into ne% areas of consulting e#pertise,
and "et t!e nature of t!e discipline and t!e roles t!at it occupies in organisations and societ" are inade=uatel"
understood (:op%ood,
19-()* Argua0l", one of t!e most effecti$e %a"s of approac!ing t!ese =uestions is to e#amine t!e components of t!e
%orld of accounting in an !istorical conte#t*
>uc! anal"sis, !o%e$er, is not %it!out contention* !e 0elief t!at it implies in t!e $alidit" of !istorical generali?
sations, t!at it is possi0le to dra% parallels and connections 0et%een past and present e$ents, !as 0een c!allenged 0"
Foucauldians, for e#ample, %!o stress 0ot! t!e discursive nature of calculation 8t!e di$erse %a"s in %!ic!
meaning and significance is attri0uted to particular %a"s of calculating9 (<iller . ;apier, 1993, p* 233) and t!e
discontinuous nature of accounting c!ange (Armstrong, 199+, p* 29)* >uc! a %orld$ie% emp!asises t!e
discontinuities in accounting !istor" and t!e !istoricall" contingent nature of accounting discourses* :o%e$er, t!is
is not to den" t!e utilit" of accounting !istor" in increasing our understanding of t!e present* 6n t!is sc!eme, !istor"
can still 0e useful 0ecause it disrupts our preconceptions a0out t!e present t!roug! careful anal"sis of %!at are
percei$ed as uni=ue mi#es of !istorical contingencies (Par&er, 200+)* !is is c!aracterised 0" :os&in . <ac$e
(2000) as t!e 8&no%ing more as &no%ing less9 produced 0" !istorical en=uir"* !erefore, &no%ledge of t!e past
still !elps to inform t!e present 0" encouraging us to =uestion %!at %e &no%, not%it!standing t!e re4ection of
8!istoricall" transcendent e#planator" parameters9 (Armstrong, 199+, p* 29)*
<oreo$er, all !istorians, including Foucauldians, find generalisations difficult to a$oid in practice, especiall"
%!en t!e" are attempting to t!eorise causal relations!ips* According to <c/lelland (19(), p* -2), 8t!e onl" possi0le
%a" of arranging facts to "ield an" causal e#planation is to su0sume t!ose facts under a generalisation9* >imilarl",
:os&in . <ac$e (2000, p* 129) maintained 8t!at in an" significant interpreti$e !istor" of an accounting e$ent, t!ere
s!ould 0e an implicit, if not e #plicit, attempt to understand its relations!ip to e$ents at ot!er times and in ot!er
places, a !"pot!esis at least of !o% it mig!t fit into a 0roader conception of t!e !istor" of accounting9*
01))?99-2@A see front matter B 200- Else$ier 5td* All rig!ts reser$ed*
2 Editorial / Accounting Forum 33 (2009) !0
>ince t!e 19-0s, accounting !istoriograp!" !as 0ecome more t!eoretical in orientation, and t!e discipline is no%
firml" located %it!in t!e social science tradition t!at su0sumes e$ents into generalisations and generalisations into
t!eor" (7ldro"d, 1999)* !ere %ould appear to 0e a tension in accounting !istoriograp!", t!erefore, o$er t!e use of
generalisations* 7n t!e one !and, t!e desire to t!eorise demands more generalisations, on t!e ot!er, t!e" are du0ious
and to 0e a$oided* 6n eit!er e$ent, t!e $ie% put for%ard 0" t!e American Accounting Association (AAA, 19(0) of
8utilit"9 of accounting !istor" as a medium for informing present practice !as not "et 0een o$erturned*
6ndeed, t!ere are man" areas in %!ic! accounting !istor" could contri0ute to contemporar" researc! into polic"?
ma&ing and standard?setting* For e#ample, t!e 6nstitute of /!artered Accountants in England and Cales (6/AEC)
!as recognised t!e $alue of !istor" in its am0itious "e# $e%orting &odels for 'usiness researc! pro4ect* Dnderl"ing
t!e initiati$e is t!e 0elief t!at current models of financial reporting are capa0le of impro$ement, 0ut first, a muc!
0etter understanding of t!e fundamental nature of t!e pro0lems is re=uired (6/AEC, 2003, pp* 2, -)* 6t is apparent
from t!e discussion note t!at follo%ed t!at t!e 6/AEC (200+) en$isaged !istorical in$estigations %ould pla" a
significant role in t!is* For e#ample, fi$e of t!e detailed =uestions put for%ard for researc! %ere earmar&ed
specificall" as lending t!emsel$es to !istorical en=uir" (EF1(20, 13), %!ereas se$eral of t!e ot!ers, as %ell as at
least t%o of t!e underl"ing =uestions identified 0" t!e 6/AEC (DF3+), !ad a !istorical dimension (6/AEC, 200+,
pp* 1112, 1)12)* Anot!er e#ample concerns 3rom%ic!, <ac$e, . >under9s (200-) call for a more pragmatic
approac! to t!e formulation of accounting concepts 0ased on an appraisal of t!e appropriateness of e#isting
con$entions* 3" t!eir $er" nature, accounting con$entions comprise practices t!at !a$e 0ecome con$entional
t!roug! past usage* As products of past practice, to 0e a0le to full" understand t!em one needs to understand %!"
t!e" arose in t!e first place* >imilarl", one a$enue for ta&ing t!e de0ate o$er t!e conceptual frame%or& for%ard
%ould 0e to consider %!at o04ecti$es financial accounting is capa0le of sustaining* :ere, accounting !istor"
0ecomes !ugel" informati$e t!roug! its a0ilit" to e#amine t!is =uestion in relation to past e#perience*
!e discussion proceeds %it! a re$ie% of t!e !istoriograp!ical literature relating to t!e potential of !istor" to
inform t!e present and predict t!e future, 0efore mo$ing on to consider t!e implications of t!e si# papers in t!is
special issue*
2. Historys potential to inform the present and predict the future
!e relations!ip and interrelations!ip 0et%een t!e past and t!e present, and t!e past and t!e future, are comple#
and to a certain e#tent refle#i$e* !e past and present e#ist and coe#ist in man" s!apes and forms* !e" are %!at
!as !appened or is !appening* ime rolls for%ard* oda" soon 0ecomes "esterda"* >imilarl" tomorro% soon
0ecomes toda" and t!en passes into "esterda"* !e future, t!e un&no%n, soon 0ecomes t!e &no%n and t!en %!at %e
!a$e &no%n* !e future %!ic! !as not "et !appened %ill !appen and t!en %ill !a$e !appened*
From our standpoint %e li$e in t!e present and it is from t!is $antage point t!at %e $ie% 0ot! t!e past and t!e
future* Ce are loc&ed into t!e 8no%9, 0ut t!is !as 0een determined 0" our past and t!is %ill ine$ita0l", more loosel",
!elp to determine t!e future* Ce cannot c!ange t!e past, can !a$e some impact on t!e present and can to some
e#tent influence t!e future*
6n a sense, t!ere are man" pasts and e$en more potential futures* !ese are determined from t!e present* Ce
construct 0ot! t!e past and our e#pectations of t!e future from t!e present, 0ut our %a"s of doing t!is !a$e 0een
learnt from our past e#periences* !e famous !istorian E*:* /arr succinctl" sums up our relations!ip to t!e past:
8Ce can $ie% t!e past, and ac!ie$e our understanding of t!e past, onl" t!roug! t!e e"es of t!e present* !e !istorian
is of !is o%n age, and is 0ound to it 0" t!e conditions of !uman e#istence9 (/arr, 1990, p* 2+)* 6t is t!e present t!at
s!apes our 0eliefs, language and &no%ledge*
C!en stud"ing !istor", and accounting !istor" is no different, %e start from %!ere %e are and %!at %e &no%*
!e accounting practices, met!ods, terminolog" and pro0lems of toda" ine$ita0l" s!ape %!at and !o% %e stud"
accounting !istor" ('ones, 200-0)* !e dominant accounting s"stem toda" is dou0le?entr" 0oo&&eeping* !us it is
no surprise t!at in stud"ing medie$al accounting, accounting !istorians are particularl" interested in stud"ing t!e
origins of dou0le? entr" 0oo&&eeping* 3" contrast, t!e origins, nature and diffusion of a more successful medie$al
accounting s"stem, c!arge and disc!arge accounting are relati$el" neglected ('ac&, 1922, 'ones, in press, 200-a)* 6t
is, t!erefore, often forgotten t!at c!arge and disc!arge %as still used in some institutions, suc! as DG uni$ersities,
as late as t!e 1-(0s ('ones, 1992, 199()* /armona (200+, p* 9), li&e%ise, identified a 0ias on t!e part of t!e
8international9 Englis!?language 4ournal editors against accounting !istor" studies in 8non?Anglo?>a#on researc!
Editorial / Accounting Forum 33 (2009) !0 3
!e terminolog" %e use in our !istorical =uestions is also present?0ased* For e#ample, %e tal& in terms of profits,
assets, lia0ilities and accounta0ilit" in our attempt to interpret t!e past* !ese $er" %ords, !o%e$er, !a$e current
connotations from %!ic! t!e" cannot 0e di$orced 4ust as in political !istor" t!e %ords democrac", empire, %ar and
re$olution are similarl" constrained (/arr, 1990)* !erefore, <iller . ;apier (1993) criticise accounting !istorians
for reading too muc! of t!e present into t!eir interpretation of t!e past t!roug! t!eir use of modern terminolog" suc!
8decision?ma&ing9* :o%e$er, Fleisc!man . Par&er (199(, pp* 2223) disagree, stating t!at present met!odolog"
ser$es as a useful reference point in anal"sing past practice* Ce cannot di$orce oursel$es from t!e past* 6ndeed, a
nineteent! centur" p!ilosop!er, Fic!te, argues t!at as t!e present is t!e focal point at %!ic! t!e 0ases of !istorical
de$elopment con$erge t!e fundamental tas& of t!e !istorian is first to understand t!e period in %!ic! !e li$es
(/olling%ood, 1993, p* 102)*
>ince e$er" generation, t!erefore, !as a uni=ue present from %!ic! to $ie% t!e past it follo%s t!at %e continuall"
reinterpret and re?e$aluate t!e past* !ere are, t!erefore, multiple pasts reinterpreted from different presents* 6ndeed,
our relations!ip to t!e past is ine$ita0l" e$en more comple# as eac! indi$idual %ill interpret !is o%n present in !is
o%n %a" and t!erefore !a$e a different $ersion of t!e past* At t!e e#treme end of t!e scale, >" . in&er (200))
argue t!at !istorians s!ould t!us recognise t!at o04ecti$it" in t!eir researc! is a futile goal, ta&e up a moral stance,
and use t!eir !istor" to promote social impro$ement in t!e present*
7nl" %!en a $ie% of t!e past !as 0een constructed is one a0le to mo$e on to $ie% t!e future from t!e constructed
past* !erefore, $ie%s of t!e future %ill also $ar" depending upon one9s $ie% of t!e past* !e potential $ie%s of t!e
future are, of course, muc! more $aria0le as essentiall" t!e past is comprised of e$ents t!at !a$e actuall" !appened*
!e past is t!erefore more suscepti0le to interpretation t!an t!e future %!ic! remains in!erentl" uncertain,
not%it!standing t!at t!e desire to predict it %ill remain* Accurate predictions are onl" possi0le in t!e
indeterminate s!ort?term* 6n t!e longer term predictions are impaired, for e#ample, 0" t!e accidental nature of
certain e$ents (7ldro"d, 1999)* :o%e$er, e$en if t!e" are pro$ed %rong, predictions can still 0e useful in !elping
us to =uestion our e#pectations in !indsig!t*
6n t!is some%!at comple# and confused interrelations!ip of past, present and future %!at t!en is t!e role of
!istor", particularl" accounting !istor", in relations!ip to t!e present and t!e futureH Alt!oug! %e !a$e argued t!at
!istor" is una$oida0l" 0iased to some degree as it $ie%s t!e past from t!e su04ecti$e present, t!is does not impl" t!at
t!e past is completel" un&no%a0le in an" o04ecti$e sense* 6n t!e first place, !istorians emplo" an o04ecti$e met!od
in appraising t!e relia0ilit" of e$idence 0ased on its closeness to e$ents* >econd, !istor" is a multi?cellular process
0ased on dialogue 0et%een researc!ers in %!ic! progress is ac!ie$ed t!roug! means of mutual interrogation* 6n
essence, t!e past can still !elp us to e#plain t!e present and formulate predictions a0out t!e future* ;apier (2002, p*
3) sums up t!e relations!ip 0et%een accounting past and present: 8%e cannot gain a full understanding of accounting
in its current manifestations %it!out &no%ing !o% accounting !as come to 0e %!at it is9* As suc! ;apier (2002, p*
+) dra%s upon t!e /ommittee on Accounting :istor" (19(0) utilitarian $ie% of !istor": 8for !istor" t!ro%s lig!t on
t!e origins of concepts, practices, and institutions in use toda", "ielding insig!ts for t!e solutions of modern
accounting pro0lems9*
Accounting !istor" can !elp us to understand t!e present in se$eral %a"s* First, it can loo& at t!e roots of t!e
present* An" current present !as its roots in t!e past* For e#ample, in t!e genealogies of calculation <iller .
;apier (1993) loo& at t!e economic, social and political antecedents of four present da" accounting tec!ni=ues:
discounted cas! flo%s in t!e DG in t!e 1920s, t!e emergence of costs in t!e late eig!teent! centur", accounting for
$alue added in t!e late
19(0s, and standard costing in t!e t%entiet! centur"* !eir stud" of t!ese tec!ni=ues !elps us 0etter to understand
t!ese modern da" practices* racing t!ese roots is not al%a"s straig!tfor%ard, 0ut it does ena0le us to gain a dept!
of understanding of present practice*
>econd, accounting !istor" !elps us 0etter to understand !uman nature* 3" loo&ing at !o% t!e ma4or indi$iduals
in t!e past acted, for e#ample, as c!ange agents ('ones, 200-a) %e can 0etter understand t!e role of &e" indi$iduals
toda" in t!e spread of accounting inno$ations suc! as t!e 0alanced scorecard* !e moti$ations and conse=uences of
t!e actions of indi$iduals in !istor" can !elp to e#plain t!e actions of our contemporaries*
!ird, in$estigating t!e social, economic and organisational structures of t!e past ena0les us 0etter to understand
our present structures* !e societal structures of t!e past %ere all constructed to sol$e past pro0lems and can !elp to
t!ro% lig!t on toda"9s pro0lems* 6n t!e past, for e#ample, regulator" structures li&e t!e >ecurities E#c!ange
/ommission in t!e D> or t!e Accounting >tandards /ommittee in t!e DG %ere informed and created as a societal
response to regulator" failures suc! as Greuger and oll and t!e ta&eo$er 0" IE/ of AE6* !ese !a$e resonances
toda" in t!e D> regulator" response, in terms of t!e >ar0enes 7#le" Act, to t!e Enron and Corld/om crises*
+ Editorial / Accounting Forum 33 (2009) !0
Fourt!, t!e stor" of t!e past !elps us to understand t!at t!e pro0lems of t!e present are not uni=ue* :uman nature
is eternal* !ere !as argua0l" 0een a need in all ages for accounting for 0ot! ste%ards!ip and, alt!oug! t!is is muc!
more contentious, for decision?ma&ing* !us, certain accounting concepts suc! as accounta0ilit" and surplus ma" 0e
eternal* !e perennial nature of t!ese concerns !elps us to conte#tualise our present pro0lems and institutions*
Fift!, !istor" !as certain r!"t!ms and t!ese can !elp us to ma&e sense of t!e present* !ese r!"t!ms come in
different t"pes, t!e" can 0e patterns or c"cles* A pattern is a se=uence of e$ents %it! a cause and an effect* For
e#ample, %it! creati$e accounting t!e pattern is t!at companies indulge in creati$e accounting, regulators regulate,
and t!e creati$e accountant finds %a"s around t!ese regulations* !is pattern of an e$ol$ing %ar of regulation is
%ell?documented (see, for e#ample, >!a!, 1992)* Cit! c"cles, suc! as t!e economic c"cles, t!e time scale is muc!
longer* :o%e$er, t!e reactions of ma4or pla"ers are again %ell &no%n* 6n good times, creati$e accounting is muc!
less of a pro0lem t!an in a do%nturn*
'ust as t!e past !elps us to understand t!e present, it !elps us to forecast t!e future* !is need to loo& to t!e future
!as often 0een a raison in d()tre for !istorical stud"* !us, ;apier (2002, p* 3) comments: 85ater !istorians of
accounting sa% a stud" of !o% accounting !ad c!anged in t!e past as pro$iding insig!ts into !o% accounting mig!t
c!ange in t!e future9* 6n accounting, t!is is particularl" important* Past accounting information is $ital for in$estors
for t!em to 0e a0le to predict future financial performance* !e s!are price of a compan" is largel" anticipator" and
t!e onl" !ard, tangi0le e$idence often a$aila0le is in a compan"9s pu0lis!ed results* At a detailed le$el, anal"sts
carefull" stud" past !istorical data from a compan" so t!at t!e" can identif" trends and tr" to predict t!e future
financial performance of companies*
!e first important role t!at accounting !istor" !as in !elping us to predict t!e future is to !elp us 0etter
understand t!e present: %it!out an understanding of t!e present, future prediction is e$en more unli&el" to 0e
correct and e$en more pro0lematic* As %e !a$e seen, accounting !istor" 0" !elping us 0etter to understand t!e
roots of t!e past, our past institutions and t!e eternal nature of t!e !uman process, does !elp us 0etter to grasp t!e
present realit" and t!e perennial =ualit" of !uman nature* As t!e /ommittee on Accounting :istor" (AAA, 19(0, p*
)3) puts it: 8Ii$en an understanding of t!e past interaction of t!e en$ironment and c!anges in accounting practices
and institutions, it ma" 0ecome some%!at easier to predict t!e conse=uences of currentl" proposed solutions9*
:o%e$er, it is argua0l" in its !ig!lig!ting of t!e r!"t!ms and patterns of t!e past t!at accounting !istor" !elps us
e$en more to predict t!e future* !is is 0ecause t!e present is one position %it!in t!e greater sc!eme of t!ings* !e
past %as once t!e present 4ust as t!e future %ill one da" 0e t!e present and t!en t!e past* An understanding of t!e
r!"t!ms, patterns and trends, t!erefore, !elps us to conte#tualise t!e present %it!in t!ese %ider !istorical c!anges*
!e !istorical e00 and flo% ena0les t!e astute to learn from t!e lessons of t!e past* urner (2002, p* 3-3) puts t!is
8At t!e same time, !istor" ser$es as a teac!er of lessons to 0e learned and, 0" doing so, pro$ides us %it! a glimpse
into t!e future* 7ftentimes, t!e lessons of t!e past !a$e pro$ided a roadmap to %!at lur&s a!ead s!ould similar roads
0e tra$elled* And s!ould t!e lessons of t!e past 0e ignored and mista&es 0e repeated, t!en !istor" ser$es as t!e 4udge
and 4ur"9* !us, ;o0es (1992) demonstrates t!e c"cles of standard?setting* :e s!o%s t!at o$er time standard?setters
repeated t!eir solutions on t!e contentious su04ect of good%ill* <ean%!ile urner (2002) loo&s at t!e !istor" of t!e
capital mar&ets and t!e accounting profession in t!e D> since t!e 1(90s* >!e documents at least si# ma4or
do%nturns and demonstrates t!e c"clical nature of t!ese crises* >!e reflects on !o% t!e latest D> post?Enron crisis
mirrors t!e earlier crises and suggests t!ere are lessons %e can learnJ
3. Key themes
o illustrate t!e point t!at accounting !istor" can pro$ide useful insig!ts into t!e functioning of financial
accounting, %e no% turn to t!e si# papers in t!is special issue* Dp until t!is point, %e !a$e referred mainl" to
*nancial re%orting rat!er t!an t!e %ider su0set of *nancial accounting* :o%e$er, from an !istorical perspecti$e, it
is financial accounting as a %!ole t!at is rele$ant, unless one9s e#amination is to 0e confined to t!e recent past*
!e notion of producing periodic financial reports to e#ternal s!are!olders, as distinct from t!e underl"ing financial
accounting records, onl" reall" 0ecame commonplace %it! t!e gro%t! of enterprises in t!e industrial re$olution*
%o of t!e papers relate to contemporar" financial reporting issues: accounting for nonrecurring c!arges in
mergers and ac=uisitions (Eorata) and accounting for pre?production costs in t!e e#tracti$e industries (/ortese,
6r$ing and Gaidonis (/6G))* Eorata loo&s at a long?esta0lis!ed accounting pro0lem: t!e treatment of 0usiness
com0inations* >!e c!arts t!e long contro$ers" o$er %!ic! met!od is more appropriate, pooling or ac=uisition, dating
0ac& to t!e 19+0s*
Editorial / Accounting Forum 33 (2009) !0 )
>!e s!o%s t!at in eac! era managers tr" to utilise e#isting accounting pro$isions in t!eir o%n interests* >!e loo&s
at a particular issue t!e e#pense treatment for ac=uisition?related costs under a D> Financial Accounting >tandards
3oard (FA>3) E#posure Eraft issued in 'une 200)* !is practice resem0les t!e capitalisation pro$ision in >FA>
1+1 on 0usiness com0inations* Eorata suggests t!at %!en accounting regulations resurrect failed met!ods of t!e
past, undesired outcomes %ill repeat* >!e feels t!at managers ma" 0e found to use restructuring reser$es as a
source of creati$e accounting practice*
/6G in$estigate t!e use of accounting policies in t!e e#tracti$e industries o$er time from an economic
conse=uences perspecti$e (i*e*, impact of t!ese policies on decision?ma&ing)* !e" state t!at t!e need for a
standardised approac! %as recognised as earl" as 190)* /6G s!o% t!at oil and gas companies in Australia in t!e
1920s argued, in t!eir o%n self interest, to maintain a c!oice 0et%een t%o accounting policies: successful efforts
and full cost* !is de0ate %as a re!earsal for t!e 6nternational Accounting >tandards de0ate o$er e#tracti$e
industries in 199-* 6n t!is case, /6G s!o%ed t!at !istor" repeated itself in t!at t!e e#tracti$e industries successfull"
defended t!eir retention of 0ot! t!e full cost and successful effects met!ods of accounting*
!e papers 0" 3illings and /apie, and /!andler and Fr" concern t%o specialist sectors: 0an&ing and t!e legal
profession* 6n 0ot! situations, t!ere %as an institutional reluctance to em0race accounting reform* 3illings and /apie
c!art t!e e$olution of 3ritis! 0an&ing to 19(0* !e" locate t!eir stud" in t!e %ider de$elopment of financial
reporting in 3ritain* 3an&s are s!o%n to !a$e 0een great 0elie$ers in non?disclosure, suc! as secret reser$es in t!e
1920s* E$en %!en !idden reser$es %ere 0ecoming unaccepta0le for t!e rest of DG companies t!e 0an&s %ere
treated as a special case* 3illings and /apie s!o% t!e slo% process 0" %!ic! 0an&s a0olis!ed t!eir non?transparent
accounting policies* !e" also demonstrate !o% t!e 0an&s used profit smoot!ing, !idden reser$es and %indo%
dressing* !e 3ritis! 0an&ing industr" onl" adopted transparent financial reporting of its capital and reser$es in
1929 %!en it felt it no longer !ad t!e po%er to oppose it*
/!andler and Fr" loo& at anot!er professional, specialist sector: DG solicitors* >olicitors are often placed in a
situation of trust %!ere t!e" loo& after clients9 mone"* :o%e$er, for more t!an 20 "ears t!e 5a% >ociet" (t!e go$?
erning 0od" of solicitors) struggled to see t!at clients9 mone" %as &ept safe (i*e*, free from fraud, loss or misuse), in
terms of separate client 0an& accounts and periodicall" audited accounts, and t!at interest on clients9 mone" s!ould
go to t!e client* 6ndi$idual solicitors %ere reluctant to adopt regulations de$eloped 0" accountants* Iraduall" from
t!e 1-(0s on%ards until t!e >olicitors9 Act 19(+, t!ere %ere mo$es to impro$e and standardise solicitors9 account?
ing rules* :o%e$er, e$er" step in t!e long road met determined opposition from $ested interests %it!in t!e legal
6n contrast, <c5ean9s paper descri0es t!e accounting arrangements of a se$enteent! centur" 1or&s!ire %or&ing,
gentleman farmer, :enr" 3est, %!o %as not accounta0le to an" e#ternal sta&e!olders* 3est %or&ed in a !ig!l"
commer? cialised agricultural en$ironment* 3est &ept memorandum and farming 0oo&s* !e focus of accounta0ilit"
for !im %as on ensuring t!at !is %or&force performed t!eir duties diligentl", %!ic! !e ac!ie$ed t!roug! a
com0ination of personal super$ision and la0our standards* 3est made e#tensi$e use of non?financial information*
!is %as not 4ust a one?%a" process, !o%e$er, as 3est, !imself, %as e#pected to a0ide 0" local custom in up!olding
minimum terms and conditions of emplo"ment* <c5ean argues t!at 3est9s met!ods can 0e percei$ed as t!ematic
precursors to accounting?0ased disciplinar" controls li&e standard costs*
Finall", %e come to >olomon and !omson9s paper, %!ic! e$aluates t!e 1-)3 report of Frederic& 3rait!%aite, a
ci$il engineer, into t!e pollution of t!e Ki$er Candle* 3rait!%aite9s report contained no financial information, 0ut
instead =uantified t!e pollutants disc!arged into t!e ri$er 0" $arious industrial concerns in p!"sical terms, 8naming
and s!aming9 t!e culprits* 6t %as moti$ated 0" a professional responsi0ilit" for pu0lic !ealt! concerns, t!e
unaccepta0ilit" of le$els of en$ironmental pollutants and a desire to reduce social !arm and protect natural
resources* Alt!oug!, at first sig!t, t!e report %ould appear to !a$e little to do %it! financial accounting %er se, t!e
t"pe of information it disclosed !as a parallel %it! t!e social and en$ironmental reports contained %it!in companies9
annual reports toda"* <oreo$er, 3rait!%aite9s report encapsulates t!e idea of it 0eing 8!uman life and !ealt! + + +
Lt!at gi$esM $alue to propert"9, and of organisations 0eing accounta0le to t!e %ider pu0lic for t!e impact of t!eir
acti$ities as measured in t!ese terms* !e aut!ors9 argue t!at t!is is a s!ado% account produced not 0" t!e
organisations t!emsel$es, 0ut 0" an e#ternal, independent 0od"*
!is is a di$erse collection of papers, t!erefore, em0racing a num0er of different t!emes* Per!aps, t!ree in
particular stand out as !a$ing a modern resonance: (1) earnings and impression management, (2) accounting inertia,
(3) and fluidit" in sta&e!olders* An o$er$ie% is pro$ided in a0le 1*
2 Editorial / Accounting Forum 33 (2009) !0
a0le 1
7$er$ie% of papers in t!e special issue
Paper ime period 5ocation Eomain 6mpression
/!ange >ta&e!olders 5essons
<c5ean >e$enteent! England Agricultural Performance 6nno$ati$e 5andlord Accounting can
centur" indicators proprietor adapt
>olomon and 1-)3 DG En$ironmental <anage a de0ate r"ing to >ociet", e*g*, Accounting
!ompson promote 6nstitution of /i$il t!in&ing perennial
c!ange Engineers >EA
/!andler and Fr" 1-2019(+ DG >olicitors Protect pri$ate 6ncremental >olicitors, 5a% /ollecti$e
interest adoption >ociet", clients, self?interest
Eorata 19+0s D> /orporations Protect pri$ate 6ncremental /ompanies, :istor" c"cle
interest adoption in$estors
3illings and /apie %entiet! DG 3an&s Protect pri$ate 6ncremental 3an& of England, >elf?interest $er"
centur" up to interest $ia !idden adoption s!are!olders, strong
19(0 reser$es, income go$ernment,
smoot!ing, customers
%indo% dressing
/ortese, 6r$ing, %entiet! AD> E#tracti$e Protect pri$ate 6ncremental /ompanies, :istor" c"cle
and Gaidonis centur" industries interest adoption in$estors
3++ Earnings and im%ression
According to 3a#ter (1999, p* 2)2), t!e main function of accounting in societ" is to trac& rig!ts and o0ligations:
8Kuminating on t!eor", t!e accounting !istorian ma" (rat!er sourl") reflect t!at accounting started as a means of
&eeping trac& of de0tors, creditors and cas!, and t!at t!is is still its main tas&, %it!out %!ic! 0usiness %ould
collapse9* Cit!out suc! trac&ing s"stems, trade %ould 0e impractica0le e#cept on t!e smallest scale* 7$er time,
ste%ards!ip and t!e e#istence of accounts ena0led t!e concentration of in$estment and t!e s!aring of ris&s t!roug!
t!e creation of a ne% t"pe of 0usiness entit" in t!e si#teent! and se$enteent! centuries, t!e 4oint?stoc& compan"*
!e earliest e#ample in England is t!e Kussia /ompan", %!ic! %as originall" formed in 1))2 to disco$er a nort!
east trading route to /!ina (Cillan, 19)3)* 6ndeed, t!e safeguarding of propert" entitlements t!roug! accounting is
so fundamental to t!e structure of modern capitalist societ" t!at it can 0e e=uated to t!e concept of 84ustice9
(Funnell, 2001)* !erefore, it is not 4ust t!e capacit" of accounts to trac& propert" rig!ts t!at gi$es participants t!e
confidence to trade, 0ut t!e a0ilit" of t!e o%ners to enforce t!ose rig!ts in courts of la% using accounting e$idence*
:o%e$er, t!e relations!ip 0et%een financial accounting and t!e %illingness of parties to trade is not 4ust a =uestion
of transparent reporting 0ut of earnings and impression management* According to Catts . Nimmerman (19(9), t!e
realit" of accounting policies is t!at t!e" are supplied to meet t!e demands of $ested interests, despite t!em 0eing
rationalised in t!e pu0lic interest* Dnder t!is 8mar&et for e#cuses9 !"pot!esis, t!e $ested interests %!o stand to gain
or lose 0" t!e $ie% s!o%n 0" accounts turn accounting into a t"pe of 8game9 rat!er t!an 8a function of principles
and professional 4udgement9 (5ee, 1990, p* (3)* 6n t!is game, t!e principals (most often s!are!olders) see& to
monitor and control agents (most often managers) and stop t!e latter %or&ing in t!eir o%n interest* Put simpl",
agents often indulge in earnings management (management of t!e num0ers) or impression management
(management of t!e presentational aspects)*
Across our si# studies, t!ere is plentiful e$idence of suc! earnings and impression management* !e oil and gas
industr" is an e#ample %!ere it is in t!e sector9s interests to preser$e c!oice in t!e met!od of accounting for pre?
production costs in order to gi$e companies ma#imum fle#i0ilit" in t!e management of t!eir reported earnings* /6G
descri0e !o%, in t!e face of concerted opposition, oil and gas companies !a$e used t!eir economic muscle o$er t!e
last +0 "ears to lo00" successfull" for t!at c!oice to 0e retained* Argua0l", remo$ing t!at c!oice %ould !a$e
increased transparenc" for in$estors* :o%e$er, t!e =uestion of transparenc" can 0ecome secondar" for s!are!olders
as %ell as directors in situations suc! as t!is %!ere t!e c!oice of met!od !as t!e potential to affect reported profits,
di$idends and s!are!older $alue* !e %is! of companies to ma#imise t!eir accounting c!oices is an issue too for
Eorata in respect of ac=uisition related costs* 7n t!e one !and, t!e 4ustification in fa$our of t!e FA>39s recent
decision to re=uire t!ese costs to 0e e#pensed is t!at it apparentl" ma&es 0usiness com0inations more transparent*
7n t!e ot!er, t!e e#perience
Editorial / Accounting Forum 33 (2009) !0 (
of a similar accounting under t!e discarded pooling met!od suggests t!at actuall" transparenc" %ill 0e impeded* !e
e$idence from pooling is t!at managers %ill use t!ese costs as an earnings management de$ice to decrease income
in t!e aftermat! of a ta&eo$er in anticipation of later re$ersals, gi$en t!e e#pectation t!at managerial compensation
%ill 0e 8s!ielded9 during restructuring*
3illings and /apie s!o% t!at t!e trust of depositors and s!are!olders in 3ritis! 0an&s circa 1--019(0 %as not
founded on transparent financial reporting, 0ut on a confidence in t!e in!erent securit" of t!e s"stem* !e fact t!at
t!is %as a period of great sta0ilit" in t!e 0an&ing sector undou0tedl" !elped* <oreo$er, t!e $er" &no%ledge t!at
0an&s %ere understating t!eir results also contri0uted to t!e sense t!at t!e" %ere 0eing prudentl" managed, and
t!erefore could 0e trusted* !e 0an&s %ere not alone in t!is* For e#ample, <alt0" (1999, p* 3)) !ig!lig!ts t!e
general le$el of trust displa"ed 0" long?term in$estors in compan" directors in t!e late nineteent! centur" 8to ta&e
sensi0le decisions9 %it!out interference* !e accounts pla"ed a part in t!is, not 0ecause t!e" %ere transparent,
rat!er 0ecause t!e" emp!asised prudence as a means of promoting sta0ilit" 0" restricting distri0utions (<alt0",
1999, pp* 39+2)* !ere %as an e#tensi$e use of secret reser$es and ot!er earnings management tec!ni=ues*
>imilarl", /!andler and Fr" o0ser$e a state of affairs %!ere t!e pu0lic %ere %illing to trust solicitors %it! t!eir
mone" despite t!eir accounting arrangements 0eing decidedl" opa=ue* !e situation is more remar&a0le t!an for t!e
0an&s in t!at it persisted for some 90 "ears despite a series of damaging financial scandals* 6n essence, t!e solicitors
used earnings and impression management to conceal t!e true accounting situation from t!eir clients*
!e earnings and impression management %it!in <c5ean9s and >olomon and !ompson9s papers is muc! more
su0tle* For <c5ean, :enr" 3est is a0le to ma&e !is %or&ers accounta0le 0" reference to 8predetermined9 standards*
For e#ample, 3est sets out in detail t!e met!od and good %or&ing practices 0" %!ic! eac! tas& is performed* !e
e#tent to %!ic! t!ese are 8o04ecti$e9 standards is unclear, 0ut t!eir purpose %as to align !is %or&ers9 e#pectations
%it! !is o%n* 6n t!e case of >olomon and !ompson, t!ere is a determined attempt 0" 3rait!%aite to manage a
de0ate on pollution of t!e Ki$er Candle* !is consciousness?raising endea$our %as an attempt to ma&e $isi0le
pre$iousl" !idden en$ironmental e#ternalities* !ere %as t!us an attempt to impression manage t!e de0ate on t!e
Ki$er Candle to ac!ie$e a greater en$ironmental a%areness*
3+2+ Accounting inertia
Accounting inertia arises 0ecause of t!e reluctance of accountants to adopt ne% practices and ideas allied to t!eir
!esitanc" in discarding old ones (7ldro"d, 1999)* 6t im0ues esta0lis!ed practice %it! its o%n momentum, and !as
0een o0ser$ed man" times 0efore* 5ee (1990, p* 9(), for e#ample, descri0ed it as 8t!e self?referential and recursi$e
nature of accounting9* >imilarl", for :ines (1991), t!e t!eoretical postulates underl"ing financial reporting are
refle#i$el" constructed from t!e esta0lis!ed 0od" of accounting practices and 0eliefs* E#amples of inertia mig!t
include t!e dela" in t!e %idespread adoption of dou0le?entr" 0oo&&eeping, %!ic! did not full" ta&e !old until t!e
nineteent! centur" ('ones, 1991) or t!e tendenc" of Eastern Europe to adapt old rules in drafting accounting
legislation follo%ing t!e demise of t!e D>>K (Calton, 199), p* 3)* !erefore, t!e notion of accounting inertia
c!allenges t!e Gu!nian interpretation of accounting as a science t!at is su04ect to a constant c"cle of c!ange as
dominant paradigms rise and fall, eac! to 0e replaced in turn %it! anot!er (/us!ing, 19-9, p* 2, Cells, 19(2, p*
:o%e$er, t!is resistance to c!ange does not preclude discontinuities occurring in accounting practice t!at can
!a$e an acute effect on its future direction* An e#ample is t!e enduring impact t!at t!e ;aOi occupation of France
!as !ad on Frenc! financial reporting (>tandis!, 1990)* An important c!aracteristic of accounting inertia is t!at it can
0e o$ercome 0" personalities and e$ents* !us, Cal&er (2000) cites a num0er of instances %!ere crises !a$e
triggered accounting c!ange* >"l$anus !a"er is an e#ample of an indi$idual doing t!e same* !roug! !is position
as superintendent of t!e Cest Point <ilitar" Academ", !e %as placed in a uni=ue position of influence o$er a ne%
generation of graduates %!o %ould go on to pla" a &e" role in American railroads and ot!er companies as t!e
American industrial re$olution unfolded (:os&in . <ac$e, 2000)*
!e papers in t!is special issue are note%ort!" for t!e insig!ts t!e" s!o% on t!e resistors@catal"sts of accounting
c!ange* As %e !a$e seen, t!ere %as a tremendous reluctance on t!e part of t!e 3ritis! 0an&s and legal profession to
adopt more modern met!ods* Eorata comments on t!e opposition %it!in t!e D> /ongress and >enate to disrupting
t!e status =uo in accounting for 0usiness com0inations* 6n anot!er industrial arena, /6G s!o% t!at t!e e#tracti$e
industries %ere e#tremel" reluctant to em0race a c!ange to t!eir accounting policies* 6n all t!ese cases, inertia %as a
significant factor in in!i0iting c!ange* 6nterestingl", %!en c!ange did occur, it %as not as a result of important
indi$iduals or e$ents,
- Editorial / Accounting Forum 33 (2009) !0
0ut t!roug! a slo% process of c!anging social attitudes* For 0ot! solicitors and 0an&s per!aps t!e &e" factor
prompting c!ange %as t!at t!eir traditional practices 0ecame anac!ronistic compared to 0usiness in general*
3rait!%aite9s report on t!e Ki$er Candle %as a reflection of a %ider social concern in pu0lic?!ealt! in t!e mid?
nineteent! centur" as %ell as t!e increasing social and political status of t!e 6nstitute of /i$il Engineers* !ere %as a
concern to initiate c!ange* :enr" 3est ma" 0e t!e e#ception of a significant indi$idual %!o 0roug!t a0out
accounting c!ange, alt!oug! !is use of standards to control !is %or&force mig!t !a$e 0een a reflection of a
0urgeoning capitalist mentalit" t!at %as occurring in agriculture as a %!ole (3r"er, 2002)* As <c5ean o0ser$es,
t!ere is presentl" a lac& of e$idence relating to %!at ot!er farmers %ere doing at t!e time, so it is too earl" to sa"*
3+3+ Fluidity in sta,eholders
!e !istor" of financial accounting displa"s fluidit" in t!e t"pe of information reported lin&ed to t!e competing
demands of sta&e!olders, not%it!standing t!e retarding impact of inertia* For e#ample, t!e need to produce accounts
t!at %ere capa0le of re%arding s!are!olders in t!e form of di$idends %!ilst at t!e same time protecting t!e interests
of lenders 0" maintaining capital 0ecame an issue in t!e mid?nineteent! centur" %it! t!e gro%t! of 4oint?stoc&
companies (Ede" . Panitpa&di, 19)2)* >ta&e!older anal"sis continues to influence modern financial reporting*
>ince t!e ad$ent of t!e /orporate Keport (A>>/, 19(2), t!e conceptual frame%or& pro4ect %orld%ide !as !inged
first on identif"ing t!e sta&e!olders in financial reports, and secondl" on specif"ing t!e o04ecti$es of financial
reporting t!at %ould meet t!eir information needs*
!e competing o%ners!ip claims of sta&e!olders and t!e different informational demands produced stand out
from t!e articles in t!is special issue* For e#ample, t!e =uestion of %!o o%ns t!e information in t!e accounts, t!e
directors of t!e oil and gas companies or t!e pu0lic, as represented 0" t!e FA>3 and 6A>3, lies at t!e !eart of t!e
issue of accounting for pre?production costs, according to /6G9s portra"al* >imilar tensions are apparent in Eorata9s
anal"sis of 0usiness com0inations, %!ere t!e interests of s!are!olders conflict %it! t!e $ested interests of compan"
>imilarl", t!e un%illingness of t!e legal profession to introduce codified accounts?rules can 0e interpreted as part
of a %ider !istorical tension 0et%een t!e legal and accountanc" professions* According to /!andler and Fr", t!ere
%as a feeling of resentment amongst solicitors in t!e late nineteent! centur" to%ards t!e ne%l" formed accountanc"
profession, %!ic! %as seen as muscling in on t!eir territor", t!at translated into a reluctance to adopt accounting
regulations de$eloped 0" t!e 8interlopers9* !ere %as also tension 0et%een a range of ot!er sta&e!olders: t!e 5a%
>ociet", clients, and t!e go$ernment*
For t!e 0an&ing sector, once more a range of sta&e!olders is e$ident: t!e 3an& of England, s!are!olders,
go$ernment and customers* 3illings and /apie relate !o% 3ritis! 0an&s %ere un%illing to dispense %it! t!eir
prudent polic" of maintaining !idden reser$es in t!e accounts 0ecause t!e" 0elie$ed t!at t!e interests of depositors
8out%eig!ed9 t!ose of t!e s!are!olders*
3rait!%aite9s report on t!e Ki$er Candle, as descri0ed 0" >olomon and !ompson is particularl" interesting
from a sta&e!older perspecti$e 0ecause it reflected t!e 0elief t!at organisations are accounta0le to t!e pu0lic at
large for t!e impact of t!eir operations on 8!uman life and !ealt!9* 6n contrast to t!e modern trend in social and
en$ironmental reporting amongst companies, t!is information %as pu0licl" reported outside t!e normal accounting
process, moreo$er 0" an engineer rat!er t!an an accountant* !e 6nstitution of /i$il Engineers, in t!is case, acted as
a representati$e sta&e!older for societ"* !e contrast %it! t!e present da" pro$ides an illustration of t!e fluidit" of
financial accounting 0ot! in terms of t!e t"pe of information reported and its o%ners!ip*
<c5ean9s paper on :enr" 3est too is significant 0ecause it illustrates a related aspect of financial accounting,
%!ic! is t!at once information is 0roug!t into e#istence, t!e uses to %!ic! it is put are capa0le of mutation* !e
adaptation of ste%ards!ip accounts since t!e 19(0s for purposes of decision?ma&ing is t!e most o0$ious e#ample
(Page, 1992, 3rom%ic!, 2001)* 6n 3est9s case, t!e main sta&e!older %as 3est !imself, t!e landlord proprietor* :e
%as not uni=ue in setting targets for !is %or&force* !ese !ad 0een emplo"ed since t!e medie$al period for t!e
purposes of 8accounta0ilit" and t!e pre$ention of fraud9* :is ac!ie$ement %as t!at !e sa% t!e potential of t!is t"pe
of information for promoting
8effecti$e management9*
4. Conclusion
6n 0ot! t!e /6G and Eorata papers, t!e issue at sta&e is %!et!er to capitalise or e#pense e#penditure, and in 0ot!
of t!em t!e aut!ors posit a failure to learn from past e#perience as !a$ing t!e potential to lead to creati$e accounting
Editorial / Accounting Forum 33 (2009) !0 9
practices in t!e future* 6t is t!erefore interesting t!at Eorata s!ould agree %it! 5ittleton (1933, p* 321) t!at
accounting is in a continuous state of impro$ement* -rima facie, !istorical o0ser$ations !a$e little to contri0ute to
impro$ing accounting practice in suc! a %orld$ie%, 0ecause 0" definition current practice is superior* :o%e$er, in
t!e case of t!ese t%o papers, t!e relations!ip 0et%een !istor" and impro$ement is more su0tle* 6t is not t!at
accounting is seen as capa0le of impro$ement t!roug! a process of natural selection, in %!ic! t!e 0est practices
sur$i$e and t!e %ea&est are re4ected, as 5ittleton 0elie$ed (5ittleton, 1933), 0ut rat!er t!roug! t!e a0ilit" of !istor"
to alert regulators not to repeat t!e 8failed met!ods of t!e past9*
!e t%o papers %!ic! focused on solicitors9 accounts and t!e 0an&ing sector s!o%ed t!at it is $er" difficult to
o$er? come sectional self?interest* 6n 0ot! t!e 0an&ing and solicitors cases, accounting c!anges %ere reluctantl"
made, dri$en from outside rat!er t!an internall"* !e 0an&ing sector %as reluctant to a0andon secreti$e practices of
earnings manage? ment, 0ut %as e$entuall" forced to 0" go$ernment inter$ention* >imilarl", t!e solicitors %ere
reluctant to reform t!eir o%n accounting practices leading e$entuall" to go$ernment inter$ention* 6n 0ot! situations
t!e traditional accounting practices emplo"ed !ad 0ecome anac!ronistic* Per!aps t!e lesson from t!e past for t!e
future is t!at %!ilst c!anging social attitudes ma&e financial reporting a d"namic process, $ested interest groups %ill
onl" 0e forced to relin=uis! t!eir o%ners!ip sta&e o$er financial accounting information and c!ange t!eir accounting
practices $ia e#ternal inter$ention*
!e final t%o papers 0" <c5ean, and 0" >olomon and !ompson s!o% t!e perennial nature of certain issues* 6n
effect, t!at 8t!ere is not!ing ne% under t!e sun9* <c5ean s!o%s t!at in t!e se$enteent! centur" t!ere %ere, as toda",
concerns %it! accounta0ilit", fraud and performance indicators* 6n fact, it is a common misconception t!at
performance indicators are relati$el" ne% t%entiet! centur" in$entions* >imilarl", >olomon and !ompson s!o%
t!at concern for t!e en$ironment is longstanding %it! an en$ironmental narrati$e 0eing constructed in t!e
nineteent! centur"* !e apparentl" ne% concerns %it! en$ironmental accounting and en$ironmental accounta0ilit"
t!us !a$e a muc! longer pedigree t!an normall" appreciated*
/ollecti$el", t!erefore, t!ese papers s!o% t!at certain t!emes, suc! as inertia, reluctance to c!ange, self?interest,
recurrent accounting pro0lems and perennial issues, !a$e resonance from t!e past to t!e present, and potentiall" to
t!e future* 6n s!ort, t!e past, present and future of financial accounting are interrelated: t!e old adage ringing true
t!at 8%e cannot !ope to see %!ere %e are going unless %e first &no% %!ere %e !a$e 0een*9
AAA* (19(0)* /ommittee on Accounting :istor"* Accounting $evie#, ./(>upplement), )2
Armstrong, P* (199+)* !e influence of <ic!el Foucault on accounting researc!* 0ritical -ers%ectives on Accounting, /, 2)
))* A>>/* (19(2)* 0or%orate re%ort* 5ondon: 6/AEC*
3a#ter, C* * (1999)* Ke$ie% of P!ilip P* 3ell (199(), to%ards greater logic and utilit" in accounting* Accounting1 'usiness and Financial
9(2), 2))2)2*
3rom%ic!, <* (2001)* Angels and trolls: !e A>39s >tatement of Principles for Financial Keporting* 'ritish Accounting $evie#, 33(1), +((2*
3rom%ic!, <*, <ac$e, K*, . >under, >* (200-)* /onceptual Frame%or&: Ke$isiting t!e 0asics* A comment on :ic&s and t!e concept of 8income9
in t!e conceptual frame%or&* 6n 'ritish Accounting Association Financial Accounting and $e%orting S%ecial 2nterest 3rou% Sym%osium on the
Future of Financial $e%orting*
3r"er, K* A* (2002)* !e genesis of t!e capitalist farmer: o%ards a <ar#ist accounting !istor" of t!e origins of t!e Englis! agricultural
0ritical -ers%ectives on Accounting, 4(+), 32(39(*
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5rgani6ations and Society, /(1), )2(*
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/olling%ood, K* I* (1993)* 9he idea of history1 revised edition #ith lectures 92:!92;* 7#ford: 7#ford Dni$ersit"
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Ede", :* /*, . Panitpa&di, P* (19)2)* 3ritis! compan" and t!e la% 1-++1900* 6n A* /* 5ittleton . 3* >* 1ame" (Eds*), Studies in the history
of accounting (pp* 3)23(9)* 5ondon: >%eet . <a#%ell*
Fleisc!man, K* G*, . Par&er, 5* E* (199()* 7hat is %ast is %rologue= 0ost accounting in the 'ritish industrial revolution1 4:0!;/0* ;e% 1or&:
Funnell, C* (199-)* Accounting in t!e ser$ice of t!e :olocaust* 0ritical -ers%ectives on Accounting, ;, +3)
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and Society, :(+), 313331*
10 Editorial / Accounting Forum 33 (2009) !0
:op%ood, A* I* (19-()* !e arc!aeolog" of accounting s"stems* Accounting1 5rgani6ations and Society, 2(3), 20(
:os&in, G* C*, . <ac$e, K* :* (2000)* Gno%ing more as &no%ing lessH Alternati$e !istories of cost and management accounting in t!e D*>* and
t!e DG* Accounting Historians <ournal, 24(1), 911+9*
Editorial / Accounting Forum 33 (2009) !0 1
6/AEC* (2003)* "e# re%orting models for >usiness* 5ondon: 6/AEC*
6/AEC* (200+)* "e# re%orting models for >usiness %ossi>le to%ics for research* 5ondon:
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121* 'ones, <* '* (1992)* Accounting re$olution at 7#ford in 1--2* Accounting1 'usiness and Financial History, 22(-2), 12)132*
'ones, <* '* (199()* !e agricultural depression, collegiate finances and educational pro$ision at 7#ford 1-(11913* Economic History $evie#,
/0(1), ))(9*
'ones, <* '* (in press)* 7rigins of <edie$al E#c!e=uer accounting, Accounting, 3usiness and Financial :istor", 19(1)+
'ones, <* '* (200-a)* !e role of c!ange agents and imitation in t!e diffusion of an idea: /!arge and disc!arge accounting* Accounting and
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'ones, <* '* (200-0)* 6nternal control, accounta0ilit" and corporate go$ernance: <edie$al and modern 3ritain compared* Accounting1 Auditing and
Accounta>ility, 2((), 10)210()*
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2(-0), 33(3)1*
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Cillan, * >* (19)3)* 9he early history of the $ussia 0om%any* <anc!ester: <anc!ester Dni$ersit" Press*
1ame", 3* >* (19)2)* 6ntroduction* 6n A* /* 5ittleton . 3* >* 1ame" (Eds*), Studies in the history of accounting (pp* 113)* 5ondon: >%eet and
<ic!ael 'o!n 'ones
Ea$id 7ldro"d
0ardiff 'usiness School1 0ardiff @niversity1 A>ercon#ay 'uilding1 0olum Arive1
0ardiff1 0F0 3E@1 @nited Bingdom
"e#castle @niversity 'usiness School1 Armstrong 'uilding1 " e #castle u%on
9 yne1 "E 4$@1 @nited

/orresponding aut!or*
12 Editorial / Accounting Forum 33 (2009) !0
ECmail address= 'ones<12R/ardi ff*ac*u& (<*'* 'ones)