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ÔRationalÕ Farmers and the Emergence of Modern Accounting in Danish Dairying

Author

Listed:
  • Markus Lampe

    (Vienna University of Economics and Business)

  • Paul Sharp

    (University of Southern Denmark, CEPR)

Abstract

We argue that Danish agriculture provides an ideal opportunity to understand how and why modern accounting emerged. Denmark underwent an unusually rapid and successful agricultural transformation in the second half of the nineteenth century, largely based on dairying, for which we present unique Ôreal timeÕ data on the process of the development of accounting. We observe that economic actors first argued for the introduction of modern accounting at a time of crisis during the Napoleonic Wars and immediately after, when the proscriptive arguments offered failed to take hold. Then, in the 1850s and 1860s, a group of Ôrational farmersÕÐ owners and administrators of landed estates Ð made a second attempt. During this latter period, they succeeded in spreading their ideas: initially to their peers, but later even to the peasantry through the cooperative movement, thus transforming agricultural practice in their wake. We analyze this within a theoretical framework borrowed from the international relations literature, and see the rational farmers as an example of the creation of an Ôepistemic communityÕ: they emerged during a period of uncertainty, offered interpretations based on their normative understanding of reality, and finally institutionalized praxis through for example scientific journals and schooling.

Suggested Citation

  • Markus Lampe & Paul Sharp, 2017. "ÔRationalÕ Farmers and the Emergence of Modern Accounting in Danish Dairying," Working Papers 0115, European Historical Economics Society (EHES).
  • Handle: RePEc:hes:wpaper:0115
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    File URL: http://www.ehes.org/EHES_115.pdf
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Keywords

    Accounting; bookkeeping; dairies; Denmark;

    JEL classification:

    • M41 - Business Administration and Business Economics; Marketing; Accounting; Personnel Economics - - Accounting - - - Accounting
    • N53 - Economic History - - Agriculture, Natural Resources, Environment and Extractive Industries - - - Europe: Pre-1913

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