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Multiple Origins of Accounting? An Early Italian Example of the Development of Accounting for Managerial Purposes

  • Valerio Antonelli
  • Trevor Boyns
  • Fabrizio Cerbioni
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    Utilising archival materials relating to an Italian pottery manufacturer, Manifattura Ginori, this paper examines the development of the company's accounting system during the 19th century. By the early 1800s, Manifattura Ginori is shown to have developed a double-entry bookkeeping system and to have carried out cost calculations. Deficiencies in the archive unfortunately do not enable us to determine precisely the nature of the links between the cost calculations and the financial accounting system during the early decades of the 19th century. However, as the century wore on, and the business moved from being an artisanal based manufacturer of high quality porcelain to a large-scale, industrial producer of utilitarian wares, Manifattura Ginori developed its system of accounting to reflect organisational changes and managerial needs. The Ginori archives therefore not only provide us with a rare glimpse of accounting in an early industrial context in Italy, but also of the use of accounting as a mechanism for business management and control in a non-Anglo-Saxon context. In particular it allows us to examine the role of accountants, to throw light on factors causing accounting change, and the relevance of alternative theoretical paradigms in interpreting such changes. By placing the experiences of Manifattura Ginori in a context of developments elsewhere in Europe, especially Britain and France, some implications can be drawn regarding the possibility of multiple origins of accounting ideas.

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    Article provided by Taylor & Francis Journals in its journal European Accounting Review.

    Volume (Year): 15 (2006)
    Issue (Month): 3 ()
    Pages: 367-401

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    Handle: RePEc:taf:euract:v:15:y:2006:i:3:p:367-401
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