The Rise of Modern Accounting and the Fall of the Public Company: The Lancashire Cotton Mills, 1870-1914
This paper describes the main features of a system of open corporate accountability to active working and middle class investors supported by a relatively efficient capital market operating in late nineteenth century Lancashire. The economic causes and social consequences of the collapse of this system are documented and analysed with special reference to the process of accounting change. The centralisation of share ownership was associated with the rise of a clique of new directors skilled at mill flotation. This new group of shareholder entrepreneurs are shown to be the instigators and beneficiaries of the adoption of modern accounting practices.
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