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Calculating Profit: A Historical Perspective on the Development of Capitalism

  • Toms, Steven

The paper introduces the notion of different methods of calculating and analysing profitability as signatures of capitalism at different stages of development. Interactions between the development of the productive forces and the socialisation of capital ownership jointly impact on these signatures, such that profit calculations are historically contingent. These interactions take the identification of capitalism beyond simple associations with the presence or absence of double-entry bookkeeping (DEB), the capital account or return on capital calculations. Profit calculations are implicated in the process of transition from feudalism to capitalism by enabling the private enforcement of profit levels in excess of legally regulated interest rates or through fairly remunerated labour. The modern usage of ROCE is linked to the development of the productive forces and the socialisation of capital ownership.

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File URL: http://eprints.whiterose.ac.uk/4156/1/wp41toms.pdf
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Paper provided by The York Management School, University of York in its series The York Management School Working Papers with number 41.

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Length: 32 pages
Date of creation: Jul 2008
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:wrc:ymswp1:41
Contact details of provider: Postal: Sally Baldwin Buildings, Block A, Heslington, York, YO10 5DD
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Web page: http://www.york.ac.uk/management/

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  1. Zambon, Stefano & Zan, Luca, 2000. "Accounting relativism: the unstable relationship between income measurement and theories of the firm," Accounting, Organizations and Society, Elsevier, vol. 25(8), pages 799-822, November.
  2. repec:cup:cbooks:9780521434508 is not listed on IDEAS
  3. Neal, Larry, 2000. "How it all began: the monetary and financial architecture of Europe during the first global capital markets, 1648 1815," Financial History Review, Cambridge University Press, vol. 7(02), pages 117-140, October.
  4. Bryer, R. A., 1993. "The late nineteenth-century revolution in financial reporting: Accounting for the rise of investor or managerial capitalism?," Accounting, Organizations and Society, Elsevier, vol. 18(7-8), pages 649-690.
  5. Jensen, Michael C, 1993. " The Modern Industrial Revolution, Exit, and the Failure of Internal Control Systems," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 48(3), pages 831-80, July.
  6. Stefano Zambon, 1996. "Accounting and business economics traditions: a missing European connection?," European Accounting Review, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 5(3), pages 401-411.
  7. Steve Toms & Mike Wright, 2002. "Corporate Governance, Strategy and Structure in British Business History, 1950-2000," Business History, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 44(3), pages 91-124.
  8. Walsh, Eamonn J. & Stewart, Ross E., 1993. "Accounting and the construction of institutions: The case of a factory," Accounting, Organizations and Society, Elsevier, vol. 18(7-8), pages 783-800.
  9. Janette Rutterford, 2004. "From dividend yield to discounted cash flow: a history of UK and US equity valuation techniques," Accounting History Review, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 14(2), pages 115-149.
  10. Bryer, R. A., 2005. "A Marxist accounting history of the British industrial revolution: a review of evidence and suggestions for research," Accounting, Organizations and Society, Elsevier, vol. 30(1), pages 25-65, January.
  11. Trevor Boyns & John Richard Edwards, 1997. "The Construction of Cost Accounting Systems in Britain to 1900: The Case of the Coal, Iron and Steel Industries," Business History, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 39(3), pages 1-29.
  12. Jones, Haydn, 1985. "Accounting, Costing, and Cost Estimation in Welsh Industry," University of Chicago Press Economics Books, University of Chicago Press, edition 0, number 9780708308820.
  13. Toms, J. S., 1998. "The supply of and demand for accounting information in an unregulated market: Examples from the lancashire cotton mills, 1855-1914," Accounting, Organizations and Society, Elsevier, vol. 23(2), pages 217-238, February.
  14. Roy Church & Trevor Baldwin & Bob Berry, 1994. "Accounting for profitability at the Consett Iron Company before 1914: measurement, sources, and uses," Economic History Review, Economic History Society, vol. 47(4), pages 703-724, November.
  15. Toms, Steven, 2005. "Financial control, managerial control and accountability: evidence from the British Cotton Industry, 1700-2000," Accounting, Organizations and Society, Elsevier, vol. 30(7-8), pages 627-653.
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