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The Rise of Modern Accounting and the Fall of the Public Company: The Lancashire Cotton Mills, 1870-1914

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  • J S Toms

Abstract

This paper describes the main features of a system of open corporate accountability to active working and middle class investors supported by a relatively efficient capital market operating in late nineteenth century Lancashire. The economic causes and social consequences of the collapse of this system are documented and analysed with special reference to the process of accounting change. The centralisation of share ownership was associated with the rise of a clique of new directors skilled at mill flotation. This new group of shareholder entrepreneurs are shown to be the instigators and beneficiaries of the adoption of modern accounting practices.

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Paper provided by University of Nottingham, School of Management & Finance in its series SMF Discussion Paper Series with number 9801.

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Handle: RePEc:wuk:nofidp:9801

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Postal: The School of Management & Finance. University of Nottingham. University Park, Nottingham NG7 2RD United Kingdom
Phone: +44-115-846 66 02
Fax: +44-115-846 66 67
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Web page: http://www.nottingham.ac.uk/business/
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  1. Lazonick, William, 1979. "Industrial Relations and Technical Change: The Case of the Self-Acting Mule," Cambridge Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 3(3), pages 231-62, September.
  2. Burchell, Stuart & Clubb, Colin & Hopwood, Anthony G., 1985. "Accounting in its social context: Towards a history of value added in the United Kingdom," Accounting, Organizations and Society, Elsevier, vol. 10(4), pages 381-413, October.
  3. Bryer, R. A., 2000. "The history of accounting and the transition to capitalism in England. Part two: evidence," Accounting, Organizations and Society, Elsevier, vol. 25(4-5), pages 327-381, May.
  4. Tinker, Anthony M. & Merino, Barbara D. & Neimark, Marilyn Dale, 1982. "The normative origins of positive theories: Ideology and accounting thought," Accounting, Organizations and Society, Elsevier, vol. 7(2), pages 167-200, April.
  5. Arrington, C. Edward & Francis, Jere R., 1989. "Letting the chat out of the bag: Deconstruction, privilege and accounting research," Accounting, Organizations and Society, Elsevier, vol. 14(1-2), pages 1-28, January.
  6. Watts, Ross L & Zimmerman, Jerold L, 1983. "Agency Problems, Auditing, and the Theory of the Firm: Some Evidence," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 26(3), pages 613-33, October.
  7. Bryer, R. A., 2000. "The history of accounting and the transition to capitalism in England. Part one: theory," Accounting, Organizations and Society, Elsevier, vol. 25(2), pages 131-162, February.
  8. Burchell, Stuart & Clubb, Colin & Hopwood, Anthony & Hughes, John & Nahapiet, Janine, 1980. "The roles of accounting in organizations and society," Accounting, Organizations and Society, Elsevier, vol. 5(1), pages 5-27, January.
  9. Bryer, R. A., 1993. "The late nineteenth-century revolution in financial reporting: Accounting for the rise of investor or managerial capitalism?," Accounting, Organizations and Society, Elsevier, vol. 18(7-8), pages 649-690.
  10. Sanford J Grossman & Joseph E Stiglitz, 1997. "On the Impossibility of Informationally Efficient Markets," Levine's Working Paper Archive 1908, David K. Levine.
  11. Jensen, Michael C. & Meckling, William H., 1976. "Theory of the firm: Managerial behavior, agency costs and ownership structure," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 3(4), pages 305-360, October.
  12. Cooper, David J. & Sherer, Michael J., 1984. "The value of corporate accounting reports: Arguments for a political economy of accounting," Accounting, Organizations and Society, Elsevier, vol. 9(3-4), pages 207-232, October.
  13. R.A. Bryer, 1997. "The Mercantile Laws Commission of 1854 and the Political Economy of Limited Liability," Economic History Review, Economic History Society, vol. 50(1), pages 37-56, 02.
  14. Tinker, Anthony M., 1980. "Towards a political economy of accounting: An empirical illustration of the cambridge controversies," Accounting, Organizations and Society, Elsevier, vol. 5(1), pages 147-160, January.
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