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Accounting and the absence of a business economics tradition in the United Kingdom

  • Christopher Napier
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    Economics was slow to emerge as a distinct academic and professional discipline in the United Kingdom. In the years around 1900, some British universities began to offer degrees in commerce, including accounting. These degrees were influenced by the contemporary emergence of business economics (betriebswirtschaftslehre) in Germany. However, there was no substantive emergence of a body of economic theory relating specifically to the business organization. Later attempts in the 1930s to apply economic argumentation to the problems of business and accounting, in the context of both profit determination and costing, centred around the Department of Business Administration and the Accounting Research Association, based at the London School of Economics. Although the activities of these groups are often viewed in terms of the influence of economics on accounting, there were reverse currents in that accounting notions helped in the formalization of macroeconomic notions such as national income and in the development of social accounting by Richard Stone and others. However, the intervention of the Second World War curtailed this interchange of ideas. In the post-war period, the rapid expansion of accounting as both an academic discipline and a professional practice was accompanied by a greater awareness of economic ideas and concepts. In financial reporting, these had an important influence on the inflation accounting debate of the 1970s and 1980s. In management accounting, economic ideas often operated as criticisms of existing practices. However, both the comparatively underdeveloped application by economists of their theories to business problems and the continuing intellectual barriers between academic and professional accountants made the practical interaction of accounting and economics a sporadic phenomenon.

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

    Volume (Year): 5 (1996)
    Issue (Month): 3 ()
    Pages: 449-481

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    Handle: RePEc:taf:euract:v:5:y:1996:i:3:p:449-481
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