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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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    Goodwill; profit measurement; prudence;


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