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Article
Publication date: 30 July 2018

David Oldroyd, Thomas Tyson and Richard Fleischman

The purpose of this paper is to focus on the labour contract system (LCS) established by the Freedmen’s Bureau after the American Civil War to normalise relations between…

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to focus on the labour contract system (LCS) established by the Freedmen’s Bureau after the American Civil War to normalise relations between freed-slaves and their former masters and to uphold their rights as free citizens. In particular, it explains the lack of accountability of employers under the LCS and how this contributed to the system’s failure.

Design/methodology/approach

The paper adopts an archive-based approach to develop and illustrate the labour contracting relationship between freed-persons and property owners and the role accounting played in sustaining this relationship in the immediate post-bellum period.

Findings

The paper finds that the LCS was coercive compared to contemporary business practice in the USA; did not conform to the high ideals of contracting as portrayed by the abolition movement; and was adopted by default rather than design. In the event, the reluctance of the federal government to infringe individual autonomy by imposing an over-arching system of regulation to hold employers to account for upholding their contractual obligations prevailed over the desire to defend the freed-people’s property rights.

Research limitations/implications

This research examines the relationship between labour contracting and property rights as well as the role of accounting in sustaining racial prejudice against freed-persons after the American Civil War. As in many archive-based studies, illustrations are selective and not randomised.

Originality/value

The paper examines the various accountings and accountabilities within the LCS in the context of the underlying ideological tensions and priorities in post-conflict US society.

Details

Accounting, Auditing & Accountability Journal, vol. 31 no. 6
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0951-3574

Keywords

Article
Publication date: 2 August 2011

Richard K. Fleischman, David Oldroyd and Thomas N. Tyson

The aim of this paper is to focus on the transition from slavery to wage workers in the American South and British West Indies, and the corresponding nature of the…

1708

Abstract

Purpose

The aim of this paper is to focus on the transition from slavery to wage workers in the American South and British West Indies, and the corresponding nature of the reporting and control procedures that were established in both venues, in order to create a disciplined workforce, and establish regular relations between employees and employers. It seeks to explain the differences in labour control practices between the two regions and to discuss the impact on these practices of accounting and other quantitative techniques c.1760-1870. In particular, it aims to consider the central role played by government in the process.

Design/methodology/approach

The study forms part of an archival research project, in which the authors have consulted archives in four Southern States (Alabama, Louisiana, Mississippi, and North Carolina), three Caribbean island nations, formerly British colonies (Antigua, Barbados, and Jamaica), and record repositories the length and breadth of Great Britain. The records of the Freedmen ' s Bureau (FB), located in the National Archives, Washington, DC, have been likewise visited. These primary sources have been supported by the extensive secondary literature on slavery and its aftermath.

Findings

In the USA, accounting for labour in the transition from slavery was typically ad hoc and inconsistent, whereas in the BWI it was more organised, detailed, and displayed greater uniformity – both within and across colonies. The role of the British Colonial Office (BCO) was crucial here. A range of economic and political factors are advanced to explain the differences between the two locations. The paper highlights the limitations of accounting controls and economic incentives in disciplining labour without the presence of physical coercion in situations where there is a refusal on the part of the workers to cooperate.

Originality/value

There is a relatively small volume of secondary literature comparing US and BWI slavery and its legacy. Likewise, the accounting implications of labour-control practices, during the transition from slavery to freedom, are largely understudied. The research also points to a need to assess the decision-influencing capabilities of management accounting systems in other transitional labour settings.

Details

Accounting, Auditing & Accountability Journal, vol. 24 no. 6
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0951-3574

Keywords

Article
Publication date: 5 October 2020

Bradley Bowden and Peta Stevenson-Clarke

Postmodernist ideas – most particularly those of Foucault but also those of Latour, Derrida and Barthes – have had a much longer presence in accounting research than in…

Abstract

Purpose

Postmodernist ideas – most particularly those of Foucault but also those of Latour, Derrida and Barthes – have had a much longer presence in accounting research than in other business disciplines. However, in large part, the debates in accounting history and management history, have moved in parallel but separate universes. The purpose of this study is therefore one of exploring not only critical accounting understandings that are significant for management history but also one of highlighting conceptual flaws that are common to the postmodernist literature in both accounting and management history.

Design/methodology/approach

Foucault has been seminal to the critical traditions that have emerged in both accounting research and management history. In exploring the usage of Foucault’s ideas, this paper argues that an over-reliance on a set of Foucauldian concepts – governmentality, “disciplinary society,” neo-liberalism – that were never conceived with an eye to the problems of accounting and management has resulted in not only in the drawing of some very longbows from Foucault’s formulations but also misrepresentations of the French philosophers’ ideas.

Findings

Many, if not most, of the intellectual positions associated with the “Historic Turn” and ANTi-History – that knowledge is inherently subjective, that management involves exercising power at distance, that history is a social construct that is used to legitimate capitalism and management – were argued in the critical accounting literature long before Clark and Rowlinson’s (2004) oft cited call. Indeed, the “call” for a “New Accounting History” issued by Miller et al. (1991) played a remarkably similar role to that made by Clark and Rowlinson in management and organizational studies more than a decade later.

Originality/value

This is the first study to explore the marked similarities between the critical accounting literature, most particularly that related to the “New Accounting History” and that associated with the “Historic Turn” and ANTi-History in management and organizational studies.

Details

Journal of Management History, vol. 27 no. 1
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1751-1348

Keywords

Article
Publication date: 8 May 2009

Andy Holden, Warwick Funnell and David Oldroyd

This paper aims to examine the Victorian attitude to the poor by focussing on the health care provided at a large provincial hospital, the Newcastle Infirmary.

1883

Abstract

Purpose

This paper aims to examine the Victorian attitude to the poor by focussing on the health care provided at a large provincial hospital, the Newcastle Infirmary.

Design/methodology/approach

The archives of the Newcastle Infirmary are reviewed alongside the local trade directories. These primary sources are examined in conjunction with the writings of contemporary social theorists on poverty.

Findings

At a time when poverty was seen as a sin, an act against God, it would be easy to assume that the Victorians faced no moral dilemma in dismissing the poor, particularly what were seen as the “undeserving poor”, out of hand. Yet, the paper observes how accounting was used both to persuade the wealthier citizens to contribute funds and to enable the hospital to exercise compassion in treating paupers despite this being prohibited under the hospital's rules. Such a policy conflicted with the dominant utilitarian view of society, which emphasised the twin pillars of economic expediency and self‐help.

Research limitations/implications

More case studies are needed of other hospitals to ascertain how typical the Newcastle Infirmary was of the voluntary hospital sector as a whole.

Originality/value

Although many histories of British hospitals exist and some have examined how accounting was used to manage within these institutions, the concern has not been with accounting as a moral practice.

Details

Accounting, Auditing & Accountability Journal, vol. 22 no. 4
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0951-3574

Keywords

Content available
Article
Publication date: 24 April 2007

574

Abstract

Details

Accounting, Auditing & Accountability Journal, vol. 20 no. 2
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0951-3574

Article
Publication date: 1 December 2004

Thomas N. Tyson, Richard K. Fleischman and David Oldroyd

The paper focuses on accounting for slave workers during one of the most morally culpable periods in Western civilization and is concerned with issues central to labor …

2230

Abstract

The paper focuses on accounting for slave workers during one of the most morally culpable periods in Western civilization and is concerned with issues central to labor – modes of production, labor control, and labor productivity. It incorporates secondary sources and examination of records from over 150 different US and BWI plantations to identify contextual factors that motivated planters to organize their workforce in a particular way. The paper specifically describes the ganging and tasking methods of extracting surplus value and indicates how these methods fit within three common paradigmatic interpretations of accounting history – labor process, power/knowledge/discipline, and economic rationalism. In summary, ganging exemplified a pre‐modern approach to organizing labor in which planters relied primarily on physical power to compel work effort and increase output. Tasking incorporated individual work rates and included more sophisticated practices of surveillance, measurement, normalization, and socialization. Tasking became economically rational by responding to changing market conditions and by incorporating procedures and incentives to spur greater productivity. Therefore, tasking may be perceived as a thematic precursor to accounting‐based disciplinary controls like standard costing and a transitionary element from pre‐modern to modern control systems.

Details

Accounting, Auditing & Accountability Journal, vol. 17 no. 5
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0951-3574

Keywords

Article
Publication date: 26 February 2014

Warwick Funnell, Andrew Holden and David Oldroyd

This paper examines the nature and function of cost accounting at the Newcastle Infirmary, a large voluntary provincial hospital, established in 1751. In particular, the…

Abstract

Purpose

This paper examines the nature and function of cost accounting at the Newcastle Infirmary, a large voluntary provincial hospital, established in 1751. In particular, the paper adds to the literature on accounting within early voluntary hospitals by identifying the relative contributions of the costing system to planning and controlling the operations, assisting decision making and holding managers accountable for their performance.

Design/methodology/approach

The paper relies primarily on original documents preserved in the archives of the Newcastle Infirmary.

Findings

Although evidence was found of quite sophisticated costing systems, the findings suggest that the majority of the information was produced ex post by the hospital management to demonstrate good stewardship and to engender financial support.

Research limitations/implications

More cases are needed of other hospitals to ascertain how typical the Newcastle Infirmary was of the voluntary hospital sector in the nineteenth century.

Originality/value

Although there are other studies of accounting within British voluntary hospitals, and studies of the use of accounting to drive decision making in profit-making organisations during the nineteenth century, none have investigated the use of accounting as a decision-making tool in a voluntary hospital.

Details

Accounting, Auditing & Accountability Journal, vol. 27 no. 3
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0951-3574

Keywords

Article
Publication date: 1 April 1994

David Oldroyd

There is a paradox within some market economies that accounting appearsto enjoy superior power and status to marketing. This is significantbecause of the close working…

1801

Abstract

There is a paradox within some market economies that accounting appears to enjoy superior power and status to marketing. This is significant because of the close working relationship between the two professions, and can be linked to accounting′s key role in market regulation. Brands allow us to consider this in a single issue, by juxtaposing the accounting and marketing rationale applied, with illustrations from practice. A fundamental difference of focus is observed in their attitudes to the uncertainties of brands. Marketing regards them as intrinsically valuable strategic devices which reduce the risks of products failing. Accounting sees them as intrinsically misleading, because they increase the risks of reporting unreliable information. Unlike marketing, therefore, financial accounting can ignore the perceived economic benefits of brands on the grounds of uncertainty, and by so doing preserves its own reputation for integrity. Inevitably the claims of accounting will prevail because it controls financial reporting.

Details

International Marketing Review, vol. 11 no. 2
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0265-1335

Keywords

Content available
Article
Publication date: 27 March 2009

1119

Abstract

Details

Accounting, Auditing & Accountability Journal, vol. 22 no. 3
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0951-3574

Article
Publication date: 30 May 1995

Colin Gilligan

Given the ways in which the research pressures on university staff are becoming seemingly ever greater, an issue of the European Journal of Marketing that is given over to…

3245

Abstract

Given the ways in which the research pressures on university staff are becoming seemingly ever greater, an issue of the European Journal of Marketing that is given over to a survey of the kinds of research initiatives which are currently being carried out is timely. The study which provides the basis for this was conducted between December 1994 and February 1995, with questionnaires being sent to staff in universities throughout Europe. At the time the final selection was made, a total of 150 responses had been received from 18 countries.

Details

European Journal of Marketing, vol. 29 no. 5
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0309-0566

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