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The use of the postal questionnaire in accounting history research


  • Derek Matthews


This methodological article discusses the first project in accounting history to use the postal questionnaire as a research tool. The historical context was the changing nature of the company audit in Britain, and this article outlines the process by which the questionnaire was devised, the stages through which the project developed, the data that were collected, and how these were analysed and interpreted. A significant innovation was to sample, in equal proportions, accountants who qualified in each decade from the 1920s and 1930s down to the 1980s, and direct the questioning toward their early training and careers, thereby generating historical trends in the responses. Some of the results of the survey are given here by way of illustrating the weaknesses and strengths/costs and benefits of the technique in comparison with oral history and traditional documentary sources.

Suggested Citation

  • Derek Matthews, 2002. "The use of the postal questionnaire in accounting history research," Accounting History Review, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 12(1), pages 113-129.
  • Handle: RePEc:taf:acbsfi:v:12:y:2002:i:1:p:113-129 DOI: 10.1080/09585200110107984

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Matthews, Derek & Anderson, Malcolm & Edwards, John Richard, 1998. "The Priesthood of Industry: The Rise of the Professional Accountant in British Management," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, number 9780198289609, June.
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