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Accounting research and researchers of the nineteenth century and the beginning of the twentieth century: an international survey of authors, ideas and publications


  • Richard Mattessich


At the beginning of the nineteenth century the former glory of Italian accounting was overshadowed by its decline during the eighteenth century, and literature from France, England, Germany, America and other countries took centre-stage. 'Theories of accounts' (rather than 'accounting theories') dominated not merely the early but also the later part of this century when Italian accounting had regained a prominent position beside other countries. The relation of those theories to the 'charts of accounts'-which later became so prominent in Continental Europe is historically important. The controversies over personalistic versus materialistic accounts and that between entity versus proprietary theories, as well as the emergence of other theories are discussed with reference to individual authors. Diverse topics from railroad accounting and auditing to various aspects of cost accounting are investigated. Particularly important are the pioneering efforts of this period that anticipated further developments. These manifested themselves in the following ideas: entity theory, flow of funds statement, matrix accounting, different aspects of valuation, allocation and depreciation, price-level adjustments and indexation, current values, exit values, residual income valuation, managerial control, the emergence of competing accounting (and Bilanz) theories, the separation of fixed from variable costs, fixed and flexible budgeting, zero-based budgeting, PERT, transfer prices, break-even charts, variance analysis, job-order costing, labour and machine hour rates, standard costing, price determination, integrating financial and cost accounting, clean surplus theory, agricultural accounting, holding gains, and other topics. Appendix A offers an overview of Nineteenth century scholars concerned with accounting history (together with one representative work of each), and Appendix B lists the nationally (and often internationally) prominent names of accounting authors born in the nineteenth century but also or exclusively active during the twentieth century. The paper integrates approximately 400 publications of which less than half are of the English tongue.

Suggested Citation

  • Richard Mattessich, 2003. "Accounting research and researchers of the nineteenth century and the beginning of the twentieth century: an international survey of authors, ideas and publications," Accounting History Review, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 13(2), pages 125-170.
  • Handle: RePEc:taf:acbsfi:v:13:y:2003:i:2:p:125-170
    DOI: 10.1080/0958520032000084978

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Mattessich, Richard, 2003. "Accounting representation and the onion model of reality: a comparison with Baudrillard's orders of simulacra and his hyperreality," Accounting, Organizations and Society, Elsevier, vol. 28(5), pages 443-470, July.
    2. Tomkins, Cyril & Groves, Roger, 1983. "The everyday accountant and researching his reality," Accounting, Organizations and Society, Elsevier, vol. 8(4), pages 361-374, October.
    3. Richard Fleischman & Thomas Tyson, 2000. "Parallels between US and UK cost accountancy in the World War I era," Accounting History Review, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 10(2), pages 191-212.
    4. Brief, Richard P., 1966. "The Origin and Evolution of Nineteenth-Century Asset Accounting," Business History Review, Cambridge University Press, vol. 40(01), pages 1-23, March.
    5. Johnson, H. Thomas, 1972. "Early Cost Accounting for Internal Management Control: Lyman Mills in the 1850's," Business History Review, Cambridge University Press, vol. 46(04), pages 466-474, December.
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    Cited by:

    1. Santos-Cabalgante, Beatriz & Fidalgo-Cerviño, Esther & Santos-Cebrian, Mónica, 2013. "The Origins of the Spanish Railroad Accounting Model: A Qualitative Study of the MZA's Operating Account (1856-1874)," MPRA Paper 66109, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    2. Garry D. Carnegie & Christopher J. Napier, 2012. "Accounting's past, present and future: the unifying power of history," Accounting, Auditing & Accountability Journal, Emerald Group Publishing, vol. 25(2), pages 328-369, February.
    3. Biondi, Yuri, 2008. "De Charybde de la comptabilité de caisse en Scylla de la comptabilité patrimoniale," Revue de la Régulation - Capitalisme, institutions, pouvoirs, Association Recherche et Régulation, vol. 3.
    4. Bikki Jaggi & Alessandra Allini & Francesca Manes Rossi & Adele Caldarelli, 2016. "Impact of Accounting Traditions, Ownership and Governance Structures on Financial Reporting by Italian Firms," Review of Pacific Basin Financial Markets and Policies (RPBFMP), World Scientific Publishing Co. Pte. Ltd., vol. 19(01), pages 1-29, March.
    5. Ericka Costa & Tommaso Ramus, 2012. "The Italian Economia Aziendale and Catholic Social Teaching: How to Apply the Common Good Principle at the Managerial Level," Journal of Business Ethics, Springer, vol. 106(1), pages 103-116, March.


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