IDEAS home Printed from
   My bibliography  Save this article

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


  • Michael Scorgie


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

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL:
    Download Restriction: Access to full text is restricted to subscribers.

    As the access to this document is restricted, you may want to search for a different version of it.

    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Dyer,Christopher, 1989. "Standards of Living in the Later Middle Ages," Cambridge Books, Cambridge University Press, number 9780521272155, May.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)


    Citations are extracted by the CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.

    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.


    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:taf:acbsfi:v:7:y:1997:i:1:p:31-59. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Chris Longhurst). General contact details of provider: .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If CitEc recognized a reference but did not link an item in RePEc to it, you can help with this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.