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Debating Accounting Principles and Policies: the Case of Goodwill, 1880-1921


  • Julie Cooper


Debate surrounding the publication of FRS 10 (ASB, 1997) in the UK displayed support for a variety of accounting policies for goodwill, advocated for a variety of practical and conceptual reasons. An analysis of papers written on goodwill between 1884 and 1921 explores whether this lack of unanimity is a recent phenomenon or not. The paper concludes that during this earlier period there were a number of areas of agreement regarding goodwill but, although a majority of authorities favoured a capitalise/amortise policy, there was a significant difference of opinion relating to its treatment once recorded in the accounts. Analysis also suggests that advocated policies were derived from a desire to promote and operationalise the principle of prudence.

Suggested Citation

  • Julie Cooper, 2007. "Debating Accounting Principles and Policies: the Case of Goodwill, 1880-1921," Accounting History Review, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 17(2), pages 241-264.
  • Handle: RePEc:taf:acbsfi:v:17:y:2007:i:2:p:241-264 DOI: 10.1080/09585200701376568

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Ingrid Jeacle, 2005. "Accounting and the Construction of Taste: Standard Labour Costs and the Georgian Cabinet-Maker," Abacus, Accounting Foundation, University of Sydney, vol. 41(2), pages 117-137.
    2. Robert Bloom & John Solotko, 2005. "Using an historical account book as a teaching tool," Accounting Education, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 14(3), pages 239-269.
    3. Åge Johnsen, 2005. "What Does 25 Years of Experience Tell Us About the State of Performance Measurement in Public Policy and Management?," Public Money & Management, Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy, vol. 25(1), pages 9-17, January.
    4. Masayoshi Noguchi, 2005. "Interaction between tax and accounting practice: Accounting for stock-in-trade," Accounting History Review, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 15(1), pages 1-34.
    5. Aida Sy, 2005. "Resurrecting the social Pacioli: ethics, gender and other silences," International Journal of Accounting, Auditing and Performance Evaluation, Inderscience Enterprises Ltd, vol. 2(4), pages 441-449.
    6. Irena Solodchenko & Pat Sucher, 2005. "Accounting in Ukraine since independence: Real politik, problems and prospects," European Accounting Review, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 14(3), pages 603-633.
    7. Dale L. Flesher & Gary John Previts & William D. Samson, 2005. "Auditing in the United States: a historical perspective," Abacus, Accounting Foundation, University of Sydney, vol. 41(1), pages 21-39.
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    Goodwill; profit measurement; prudence;


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