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

  • Michael Scorgie
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    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.

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    File URL: http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/095852097330757
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    Article provided by Taylor & Francis Journals in its journal Accounting History Review.

    Volume (Year): 7 (1997)
    Issue (Month): 1 ()
    Pages: 31-59

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    Handle: RePEc:taf:acbsfi:v:7:y:1997:i:1:p:31-59
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