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Article
Publication date: 21 January 2022

Angélica Vasconcelos, Alan Sangster and Lúcia Lima Rodrigues

The main aim of this paper is to illustrate the importance of avoiding Whig interpretations in historical research. It does so by highlighting examples of what may occur…

Abstract

Purpose

The main aim of this paper is to illustrate the importance of avoiding Whig interpretations in historical research. It does so by highlighting examples of what may occur when this is not done. The paper also aims to promote interdisciplinarity, in the form of working with those from other disciplines, as a means to avoid this occurring.

Design/methodology/approach

This paper includes an in-depth study of the bookkeeping and financial reporting of two 18th century Portuguese state-sponsored companies using archival sources. The companies were selected because of conflicting insights across disciplines concerning the quality of their bookkeeping and financial reporting – historians have been very critical, while accounting historians have seen little wrong. These differences of opinion have never previously been investigated. The authors demonstrate how information was distributed among the account books and other records of the two companies. The approach adopted enabled a reader to fully understand the recorded economic events. The authors also present and explain the procedures, criteria and accounting terminology used in their annual reports.

Findings

This paper demonstrates how easy is to inadvertently adopt a Whig interpretation of accounting history when the focus of interest is something of which the principal researcher has insufficient understanding or expertise. It also illustrates how important it is to embrace interdisciplinarity by working with those from other discipline to avoid doing so.

Research limitations/implications

The conclusions from the case study are company-specific and cannot be generalised beyond those companies. However, the implications of this study go beyond the companies in its illustration of the importance of fully understanding historical evidence within its own context.

Originality/value

This paper unveils primary archival sources never previously presented in the literature. It also contributes to the literature by providing an evidence-based justification for the calls previously made to accounting historians to study accounting in its social context and engage with historians from other disciplines.

Details

Accounting, Auditing & Accountability Journal, vol. 35 no. 6
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0951-3574

Keywords

Article
Publication date: 1 October 1996

Warwick Funnell

Points out that traditional conceptions of accounting history and its achievements are being challenged by new accounting historians who are informed by radical…

4256

Abstract

Points out that traditional conceptions of accounting history and its achievements are being challenged by new accounting historians who are informed by radical philosophies and approaches to history. Suggests that this is a belated reflection of movements within the wider discipline of history which can be traced to the annalists in the 1930s and more recently to the influence of postmodernism. Observes that at issue between the traditional and new history are the importance of facts and the pursuit of truth by traditional historians, noting that new accounting historians have decried the reactionary effects of traditional history, which they propose to overcome by substituting accounting as an interested discourse for accounting as a neutral, socially sterile technique. Explains that, as the conventional form of historical writing, the narrative form also has been disparaged. Concludes by arguing that accounting historians should be tolerant of different approaches to accounting history.

Details

Accounting, Auditing & Accountability Journal, vol. 9 no. 4
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0951-3574

Keywords

Article
Publication date: 1 August 1996

Garry D. Carnegie and Christopher J. Napier

Accounting history has a long tradition, but in recent years it has expanded its interests and approaches. Early literature of accounting history that sought to glorify…

9240

Abstract

Accounting history has a long tradition, but in recent years it has expanded its interests and approaches. Early literature of accounting history that sought to glorify the practice of accounting and the status of accountants has been supplemented first by a more utilitarian approach viewing the past as a “database” for enhancing understanding of contemporary practice and for identifying past accounting solutions that might be relevant to current problems, and then by a more critical approach, which seeks to understand accounting’s past through the perspective of a range of social and political theories. A tension has developed between those historians whose first loyalty is to the archive and those who look primarily to theory to inform their historical investigations. As accounting history matures, open debate between practitioners of different modes of history making can only be beneficial, not only to the development of the discipline, but also towards our own self‐understandings as accountants, including the impact we have on organizational and social functioning. Suggests that accounting history without a firm archival base is likely to lose direction, but that our notion of what constitutes the archive, and our ways of communicating, explicating and interpreting the archive, should not be taken as fixed. To illustrate this, examines a number of approaches to the writing of accounting history where recent research has begun to demonstrate a critical and interpretive tendency, and suggests directions in which this research might develop as accounting and its history enters the twenty‐first century.

Details

Accounting, Auditing & Accountability Journal, vol. 9 no. 3
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0951-3574

Keywords

Article
Publication date: 1 May 1998

Warwick Funnell

Traditional history has sought to provide narrative accounts of the past which can be accepted as factual, devoid of fictions and therefore true. This image has come under…

2265

Abstract

Traditional history has sought to provide narrative accounts of the past which can be accepted as factual, devoid of fictions and therefore true. This image has come under strong attack from new historians who denounce the narrative as a literary convention which mixes fiction (myth) and fact rather than being a model of an extant, discoverable reality. The narrative is also accused of being the means of privileging some accounts of history and thereby enhancing the position of social élites. This paper rejects condemnation of the ability of narrative history to provide reliable renditions of accounting’s past and promotes the role of narrativity in the “new” accounting history. It is shown that new accounting history, whilst critical of the results of traditional accounting history, currently still finds merit in the narrative as both the form in which historical events occur and as a means of telling alternative stories or counternarratives.

Details

Accounting, Auditing & Accountability Journal, vol. 11 no. 2
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0951-3574

Keywords

Article
Publication date: 9 May 2008

Stephen P. Walker

This paper aims to make an assessment of the contribution made by accounting histories of women produced since 1992 and the current state of knowledge production in this…

3500

Abstract

Purpose

This paper aims to make an assessment of the contribution made by accounting histories of women produced since 1992 and the current state of knowledge production in this subject area.

Design/methodology/approach

The study is based on a review of published sources on accounting history and women's, gender and feminist history.

Findings

Whereas feminist historians and historians of gender boast substantial advances in research and transformative impacts on the wider discipline of history, similar momentum is less evident in accounting history. It is argued that over the past 15 years scholarship has remained substantially in the “recovery” phase, has not “defamiliarized” the sub‐field and is yet to engage with developments in feminist and gender historiography which offer regenerative potential.

Research limitations/implications

The paper argues that sex and gender differentiation persist in both the past and the present and their study should feature large on the accounting history research agenda.

Originality/value

Core themes in feminist and gender history are explored with a view to identifying research questions for accounting historians. These themes include the oppression and subordination of women, the public‐private divide, restoring women to history, devising new periodisations, investigating socio‐cultural relations, and the construction of identities.

Details

Accounting, Auditing & Accountability Journal, vol. 21 no. 4
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0951-3574

Keywords

Article
Publication date: 10 February 2012

Garry D. Carnegie and Christopher J. Napier

The purpose of this paper is to revisit the special issue of Accounting, Auditing & Accountability Journal published in 1996 on the theme “Accounting history into the…

12025

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to revisit the special issue of Accounting, Auditing & Accountability Journal published in 1996 on the theme “Accounting history into the twenty‐first century”, in order to identify and assess the impact of the special issue in shaping developments in the accounting history literature, and to consider issues for future historical research in accounting.

Design/methodology/approach

A retrospective and prospective essay focusing on developments in the historical accounting literature.

Findings

The special issue's advocacy of critical and interpretive histories of accounting's past has influenced subsequent research, particularly within the various research themes identified in the issue. The most significant aspect of this influence has been the engagement of increasing numbers of accounting historians with theoretical perspectives and analytical frameworks.

Research limitations/implications

The present study examines the content and impact of a single journal issue. It explores future research possibilities, which inevitably involves speculation.

Originality/value

In addressing recent developments in the literature through the lens of the special issue, the paper emphasises the unifying power of history and offers ideas, insights and reflections that may assist in stimulating originality in future studies of accounting's past.

Details

Accounting, Auditing & Accountability Journal, vol. 25 no. 2
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0951-3574

Keywords

Article
Publication date: 15 February 2008

Stephen P. Walker

This paper seeks to review the accounting history content of Accounting, Auditing & Accountability Journal (AAAJ) over the last 20 years and to identify distinctive…

5083

Abstract

Purpose

This paper seeks to review the accounting history content of Accounting, Auditing & Accountability Journal (AAAJ) over the last 20 years and to identify distinctive research themes therein. Observations and suggestions are offered in relation to future accounting history research.

Design/methodology/approach

The study comprises an analysis of the content of AAAJ and related literature.

Findings

Histories appearing in AAAJ have focused on technical issues, accounting in business organisations, cost and management accounting, accounting historiography, professionalisation, and socio‐cultural studies of accounting. The journal has been an important medium for the pursuit of interdisciplinarity, the promotion and practical application of new research methods, methodological pluralism, and searches for convergence in historical debates.

Research limitations/implications

The paper discusses the potential for advancing established research agendas in accounting history and identifies some new subjects for investigation by accounting historians.

Originality/value

It is suggested that, while methodological innovation and plurality are to be applauded, the sustained application of new approaches should also receive greater encouragement. Searches for rapprochement in accounting history debate run the risk of stultifying historical controversy. It is argued that histories of management accounting, gender, class, professionalisation are far from “complete” and should be reignited through the adoption of broader theoretical, temporal and spatial parameters. An emphasis on the performative aspects of accounting in socio‐cultural histories is encouraged, as is clearer recognition of the significance of contemporary understandings of the boundaries of accounting. Also emphasised is the desirability of more indigenously sensitised histories of the profession, greater engagement with the “literary turn”, and a renewed commitment to interdisciplinarity.

Details

Accounting, Auditing & Accountability Journal, vol. 21 no. 2
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0951-3574

Keywords

Article
Publication date: 29 April 2014

Garry D. Carnegie

The purpose of this paper is to examine the historiographic writings for accounting concerned with the craft of researching and writing history, published in the…

1388

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to examine the historiographic writings for accounting concerned with the craft of researching and writing history, published in the English-language, across a period of 30 years from 1983 to 2012. The study's aim is three-fold: first, to review the literature pertaining to the writing of accounting history and to identify key developments and trends; second, to identify the contributors to this literature and their publication outlets and third, to analyze citations to identify individuals or groups who have gained traction in accounting historiography.

Design/methodology/approach

An essay focusing on developments in the accounting historiography literature as well as a review of some key thoughts or issues in present-day accounting historiography.

Findings

The study shows that a key development in the accounting historiography literature during this period has been the advent of new accounting history, which has contributed much theoretical and topical diversity in historical accounting research and an acceptance of the role of oral history as a means of expanding the archive.

Research limitations/implications

The present study, with its focus on contributions on the craft of researching and writing history, does not itself examine actual research studies which have been undertaken on accounting's past across the same period of time.

Originality/value

The study may assist in making the contributions examined more generally assessable and comprehensible to researchers to both explore and re-explore and may even contribute to the development of further contributions on accounting historiography to guide the approaches to, and direction of, historical accounting research in future.

Details

Accounting, Auditing & Accountability Journal, vol. 27 no. 4
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0951-3574

Keywords

Article
Publication date: 10 August 2015

Lee Parker

This paper aims to contextualise and critically evaluate the state of accounting historiography, its past and future agenda as a foundation for future scholars’ design and…

Abstract

Purpose

This paper aims to contextualise and critically evaluate the state of accounting historiography, its past and future agenda as a foundation for future scholars’ design and pursuit of accounting history research.

Design/methodology/approach

Focussing on the historiographic accounting history literature, the paper draws on prior state-of-the-art reviews as well as a range of contemporary accounting history research studies to provide an overview of the accounting history community internationally, its emergence, institutions, theories and methodologies.

Findings

Accounting history researchers are identified now as an established and growing international community of scholars, increasingly diverse in national origins and focus, yet still on the threshold of moving beyond its specialist literature into general accounting and history research literatures. Nonetheless, their historiography exhibits a vibrant theoretical and methodological discourse that has laid the foundations for expanding opportunities in both research subjects and approaches available for study.

Research limitations/implications

Theoretical and methodological proliferation offers a wealth of options for further research in this field, in terms of subject matter focus and in terms of innovative and insightful approaches to their investigation.

Practical implications

Findings already available in the accounting history literature offer useful foundational understandings that have the potential to better inform contemporary policy and practice decision-makers.

Originality/value

The paper provides a reference point for emerging and established scholars in accounting history, presenting a summary of their underlying historical institutional and historiographic development contexts and offering a research agenda based on theoretical and methodological diversity.

Details

Meditari Accountancy Research, vol. 23 no. 2
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 2049-372X

Keywords

Article
Publication date: 20 September 2011

Jayne Bisman

This poem aims to present a satirical critique and a defence of the role of accounting historians.

1897

Abstract

Purpose

This poem aims to present a satirical critique and a defence of the role of accounting historians.

Design/methodology/approach

The approach takes the form of traditional Italian ottava rima poetic form of the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries. This features eight‐line stanzas with six, 11‐syllable (hendecasyllable) lines of alternating rhymes, concluding with a rhyming couplet.

Findings

The work explores common stereotypes and misconceptions about accounting historians and addresses these by explaining the value of the accounting historian in providing “insights into accounting's present and future through its past”.

Originality/value

By using a poetic form developed around the time (and place) of the “birth” of double entry accounting, there is a resonance of form with theme, given the focus on the endeavours of accounting historians.

Details

Accounting, Auditing & Accountability Journal, vol. 24 no. 7
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0951-3574

Keywords

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