The disciplinary power of accounting-based regulation: the case of building societies, circa 1960
This paper examines how accounting–based regulation was introduced through the House Purchase and Housing Act, 1959 (HPHA59) and Building Societies Act, 1960 (BSA60). It also tells how it was put into practice by the Registrar of Friendly Societies (RFS). The discussion is framed by the so called ‘disciplinary perspective’ of accounting as represented by Hoskin and Macve (1986; 1988; 1994a; 1994b; 1996; 2000). Fieldwork documents cases of intervention by the RFS under new powers granted by BSA60. These new powers were used to discipline targeted societies or those revealing inadequate use of their funds and thus, observed important deviations from specified accounting-based criteria which was generally recognized as financially sound within the industry. As a result we provide evidence of how accounting-based regulation affected the operation of the societies. This evidence amends other studies claiming that managers of British financial intermediaries disregarded accounting information in their operation and strategic plans (or that they incorporated such criteria until the 1990s).
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