Changes in financial reporting information were an important part of the British transition from feudalism to capitalism, with statements showing cash surpluses or deficits being gradually superseded by income statements and balance sheets. The existing literature does not satisfactorily explain the (considerable) variations in the pattern of change in the early part of the transition, when information provision was largely determined by Parliamentary processes, and this paper aims to look to new evidence to strengthen and modify the existing theorisations.
The research design is to discuss and relate existing theories regarding the emergence of financial reporting information to newly discovered evidence on a substantial set of corporate formations between 1766 and 1840, during the early stages of financial (or managerial) capitalism.
Requirements to present accounts to shareholders were almost unknown before 1800 and became common only from the 1820s, usually in the form of (cash‐based) receipts and payments accounts, which enabled investors to determine the legitimacy of the dividend payments and would have enabled them to calculate a cash‐based version of the rate of return.
The paper provides new evidence on the patterns of company development and of corporate financial reporting across the formative years of financial capitalism.
McCartney, S. and Arnold, A. (2012), "Financial capitalism, incorporation and the emergence of financial reporting information", Accounting, Auditing & Accountability Journal, Vol. 25 No. 8, pp. 1290-1316. https://doi.org/10.1108/09513571211275489Download as .RIS
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