The purpose of this paper is to look at the adoption of double entry bookkeeping at the Royal Treasury, Portugal, on its establishment in 1761 and the factors contributing to this development. The Royal Treasury was the first central government organization in Portugal to adopt double entry bookkeeping and was a crucial first step in the institutionalisation of the technique in Portuguese public administration.
Set firmly in the archive, this paper adopts new institutional sociology (NIS) to inform the findings of the local, time‐specific accounting policy and practice at the Portuguese Royal Treasury.
Embedded within the broader European context, this study identifies the key pressures exerted upon the Royal Treasury on its formation in 1761, which resulted in major accounting change within Portuguese central government from that date. The study provides further evidence of the importance of the state in the institutionalization of accounting practices by means of coercive pressures and highlights for Portugal the importance of individual actors who, as powerful change agents, made key decisions that influenced accounting change.
This study examines a major instance of accounting change in European central government and broadens the application of NIS in accounting history research to a different country – Portugal – and to a different time – the eighteenth century. It also serves to illuminate the difficulties of collecting pertinent evidence pertaining to this long‐dated time period in identifying certain forms of institutional pressures.
Gomes, D., Carnegie, G.D. and Lima Rodrigues, L. (2008), "Accounting change in central government: The adoption of double entry bookkeeping at the Portuguese Royal Treasury (1761)", Accounting, Auditing & Accountability Journal, Vol. 21 No. 8, pp. 1144-1184. https://doi.org/10.1108/09513570810918797Download as .RIS
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