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Progenitors of modern management accounting concepts and mensurations in pre-industrial England

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  • Michael Scorgie

Abstract

Edwards and Newell (1994: 407) noted that 'the application of accounting techniques in business management continues to be a largely unexplored area of business history'. Outcomes of this lack of research and knowledge are simplistic conclusions such as 'accounting systems for managerial decisions and control can be traced back to the origins of hierarchical enterprises in the early nineteenth century' (Johnson and Kaplan, 1987). In contrast, the case and conclusion presented in this paper hold that innovative measurements for decisions and control attributed to industrial revolution managers were adaptations of concepts used by auditors, stewards and bailiffs who, on behalf of lords of the manor, controlled agricultural activities on landed estates. In addition, evidence is presented which shows that concepts of production standards and standard costs were used in pre-industrial England to control the manufacture and sale of bread. Much of the evidence used to build the case was drawn from translations of medieval management, accounting and legal treatises and is presented under six headings. In each of the six sections evidence of the use of a progenitor of a modern management accounting concept and associated mensuration (action of measurement) is presented and discussed. The headings are: production capacity; production standards; standard costs; cost allocation; performance analysis; and relevant costs.

Suggested Citation

  • Michael Scorgie, 1997. "Progenitors of modern management accounting concepts and mensurations in pre-industrial England," Accounting History Review, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 7(1), pages 31-59.
  • Handle: RePEc:taf:acbsfi:v:7:y:1997:i:1:p:31-59
    DOI: 10.1080/095852097330757
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Dyer,Christopher, 1989. "Standards of Living in the Later Middle Ages," Cambridge Books, Cambridge University Press, number 9780521272155, May.
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    Cited by:

    1. Malcolm Anderson, 1998. "Accounting History Publications 1997," Accounting History Review, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 8(3), pages 371-382.
    2. Bryer, R. A., 2005. "A Marxist accounting history of the British industrial revolution: a review of evidence and suggestions for research," Accounting, Organizations and Society, Elsevier, vol. 30(1), pages 25-65, January.
    3. David Oldroyd, 1999. "Through a glass clearly: management practice on the Bowes family estates c.1700-70 as revealed by the accounts," Accounting History Review, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 9(2), pages 175-201.
    4. Markus Lampe & Paul Sharp, 2017. "ÔRationalÕ Farmers and the Emergence of Modern Accounting in Danish Dairying," Working Papers 0115, European Historical Economics Society (EHES).
    5. Francesco Giaccari & Mario Turco, 2014. "L’introduzione dei sistemi di controllo di matrice anglosassone nelle aziende italiane: il caso Cornigliano s.p.a," CONTABILITA' E CULTURA AZIENDALE, FrancoAngeli Editore, vol. 2014(1), pages 13-32.
    6. Richard K. Fleischman & Trevor Boyns & Thomas N. Tyson, 2008. "The Search for Standard Costing in the United States and Britain," Abacus, Accounting Foundation, University of Sydney, vol. 44(4), pages 341-376.

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