Accounting and international relations: Britain, Spain and the Asiento treaty
The boundaries between accounting and law are contingent on time-space intersections. Here, these margins are explored in the realm of international relations by focusing on the Asiento, an 18th century treaty granting Britain the monopoly to trade slaves with the Spanish American colonies. Although a relatively minor concern of treaty-makers, noncompliance with provisions of the Asiento by the South Sea Company placed accounting centre stage in conflicts between Britain and Spain. In combination with geo-strategic and domestic political circumstances, reporting failures exacerbated the commercial dispute between the two nations which culminated in war in 1739. The accounting provisions of the Asiento are examined by drawing on managerialist and realist theories of treaty compliance. It is shown that British noncompliance with accounting obligations under the treaty was driven by realist self-interest and the maximisation of material gain. Given that such motivations dominated behaviour attempts to manage noncompliance through the routine processes and structures of international politics proved unsuccessful. Managerial devices such as diplomatic exchanges over treaty ambiguity and securing greater informational transparency merely provided further opportunities for the pursuit of self-interest. It is suggested that divergent perceptions of the role of accounting in international relations stem from the unique political, legal, social and cultural configurations of nation states. The study highlights the limitations of accounting as an instrument of treaty verification. Its effectiveness in that capacity is diminished where there is no shared understanding of the significance, purpose, content and interpretation of accounting information.
If you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.
As the access to this document is restricted, you may want to look for a different version under "Related research" (further below) or search for a different version of it.
When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:eee:aosoci:v:35:y:2010:i:2:p:252-273. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.
For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Zhang, Lei)
If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.
If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.
If the full references list an item that is present in RePEc, but the system did not link to it, you can help with this form.
If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.
Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.