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Article
Publication date: 16 February 2022

Erin Jade Twyford and Warwick Funnell

This study examines how accounting practices used by Deutsche Bank could conceal its role in the destruction of Jewish financial life (bios) as part of the Nazis'…

Abstract

Purpose

This study examines how accounting practices used by Deutsche Bank could conceal its role in the destruction of Jewish financial life (bios) as part of the Nazis' Aryanisation policy to eliminate Jews from German business as a prelude to their annihilation.

Design/methodology/approach

This study uses a close-reading method that draws upon a wide range of primary and secondary sources. The study is informed by Giorgio Agamben's theorisations on the state of exception and the duality of the example and exception.

Findings

The successful implementation of the Nazis' corporative economic model necessitated the cooperation of Aryan businesses to instrumentalise the financially exploitative process of Aryanisation. Accounting was part of the Nazi-Deutsch rhetoric used to disguise expropriation of Jewish businesses and other assets and, thereby, facilitate the eradication of the financial bios of Jews who owned German banks. Unknown to the Nazi authorities, Deutsche Bank, while a significant medium for Aryanisation, sought to ameliorate the long-term effects on Jewish owners, thereby recognising that not all those within Nazi Germany were fully committed disciples of Nazism.

Research limitations/implications

The findings of this study identify how accounting practices were part of a Nazi policy designed to eliminate Jews from the German economy. The use of accounting as a form of “Nazi-Deutsch” functioned to disguise Aryanisations. The importance of these contributions of accounting practices calls for further research into the role of business and accounting in the attempted eradication of people.

Originality/value

The paper is the first to consider the process of Aryanisation in Nazi Germany (1933–1945) as a specific historiographical subject. Presented through the examination of the Aryanisation actions of Deutsche Bank, this study demonstrates the tension between Nazi ideology, the capitalist model and the culpability of accounting practices as a means to reinterpret morality to create the exception that allowed the Nazis to effectively remove all legal protections for Jews.

Details

Accounting, Auditing & Accountability Journal, vol. ahead-of-print no. ahead-of-print
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0951-3574

Keywords

Article
Publication date: 28 August 2018

Valerio Antonelli, Raffaele D’Alessio, Roberto Rossi and Warwick Funnell

The purpose of this paper is to identify the significant role of accounting in the expropriation of Jewish real estate after the enforcement of race laws under Benito…

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to identify the significant role of accounting in the expropriation of Jewish real estate after the enforcement of race laws under Benito Mussolini’s Fascist regime in Italy.

Design/methodology/approach

Hannah Arendt’s understanding of government bureaucracy in the twentieth century totalitarian regimes informs the research which draws upon a wide range of primary sources.

Findings

Implementation of the program of expropriation was the responsibility of a government body, EGELI, which was created specifically for this purpose. The language of accounting provided the means to disguise the nature and brutality of the process and allow bureaucrats to be removed from the consequences of their actions. Accounting reports from EGELI to the Ministry of Finance confirmed each year that those who worked in EGELI were devoted to its mission as an agency of the Fascist State.

Research limitations/implications

The findings of this study recognize the need for further research on the role played by servicemen, bureaucrats and accounting as a technology of government in the deportation of Italian Jews to Germany. The study also provides impetus to examine how other countries managed the properties confiscated or expropriated from the Jews in the earlier stages of the Final Solution.

Originality/value

The study is the first to identify the significant role played by accounting and accountants in the persecution of Italian Jews under the Fascism.

Details

Accounting, Auditing & Accountability Journal, vol. 31 no. 8
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0951-3574

Keywords

Article
Publication date: 10 December 2021

Phillip E. Cobbin and Warwick Funnell

The paper explores the creation in Australia of the Register of Accountants for National Service. Established at the outset of the Second World War, the Register operated…

Abstract

Purpose

The paper explores the creation in Australia of the Register of Accountants for National Service. Established at the outset of the Second World War, the Register operated for four years from June 1940 providing voluntary, non-remunerated, part-time and after-hours services to a highly stressed and seriously stretched federal government bureaucracy by members of the main Australian professional accounting bodies. Departments of the Navy, Army, Air Force, Supply and Development and Munitions were the largest consumers of the services offered.

Design/methodology/approach

The study of the Register relies mainly on an extensive archive of war-time documentation from the Federal Government and various accounting professional institutes which has survived, predominantly in the National Archives of Australia. The resource is particularly rich in material covering the complex negotiation processes that brought the Register into operation together with documentation recording and reporting the work of the Register. The themes of professionalization, institutional legitimacy, volunteerism and patriotism are all invoked to explain the presence of the Register in the machinery of government that was assembled to deliver the ultimately successful war effort. Created by the principal professional accounting institutes, the Register attests to the commitment of their members to the war effort and, thereby, the importance of the profession to Australian society.

Findings

The perilous situation of Australia at a time of war provided a compelling incentive for the accounting profession to organise itself in an efficient and highly effective manner to assist with the war effort. The disparate and somewhat fractured accounting profession at the time was able to work together in a structured, cohesive and disciplined manner to provide voluntary services when called upon. To deliver the voluntary services promised, a purpose-built set of institutional arrangements was put in place. An extensive inventory of the potential services that could be provided by members of the main professional accounting bodies was conducted to facilitate the smooth matching of government needs with services available.

Research limitations/implications

Discussion focusses only on Australia where the Register was unique. No other examples have been discovered where a profession has self-mobilised to serve a nation in a time of war. A further limitation is that the activities reported are restricted to self-reporting by the Register and a small loose collection of documents prepared by the Department of the Navy.

Originality/value

The uniqueness of the Register is the core of the originality and value of this study. How and why it came into being and the method by which it completed the “task” assigned to it stand as testament to a profession strategically placed to contribute in a substantive manner to the war effort at minimal cost to the nation.

Details

Accounting, Auditing & Accountability Journal, vol. 35 no. 5
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0951-3574

Keywords

Article
Publication date: 23 February 2021

Michele Bigoni, Valerio Antonelli, Warwick Funnell and Emanuela Mattia Cafaro

The study investigates the use of accounting information in the form of a confession as a tool for telling the truth about oneself and reinforcing power relations in the…

Abstract

Purpose

The study investigates the use of accounting information in the form of a confession as a tool for telling the truth about oneself and reinforcing power relations in the context of the Roman Inquisition.

Design/methodology/approach

The study adopts Foucault's understanding of pastoral power, confession and truth-telling to analyse the accounting practices of the Tribunal of the Inquisition in the 16th century Dukedom of Ferrara.

Findings

Detailed accounting books were not simply a means for pursuing an efficient use of resources, but a tool to force the Inquisitor to open his conscience and provide an account of his actions to his superiors. Accounting practices were an identifying and subjectifying practice which helped the Inquisitor to shape his Christian identity and internalise self-discipline. This in turn reinforced the centralisation of the power of the Church at a time of great crisis.

Research limitations/implications

The use of accounting for forcing individuals to tell the truth about themselves can inform investigations into the use of accounting records as confessional tools in different contexts, especially when a religious institution seeks to reinforce its power.

Social implications

The study documents the important but less discernible contributions of accounting to the formation of Western subjectivity at a time which Foucault considers critical in the development of modern governmental practices.

Originality/value

The study considers a critical but unexplored episode in Western religious history. It offers an investigation of the macro impact of religion on accounting practices. It also adds to the literature recognising the confessional properties of written information by explicitly focusing on the use of financial information as a form of confession that has profound power implications.

Details

Accounting, Auditing & Accountability Journal, vol. 34 no. 4
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0951-3574

Keywords

Article
Publication date: 21 May 2018

María Dolores Capelo Bernal, Pedro Araújo Pinzón and Warwick Funnell

The purpose of this paper is to address both the neglect of non-Anglo-centric accounting gendered practices beyond the predominant professional setting and the…

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to address both the neglect of non-Anglo-centric accounting gendered practices beyond the predominant professional setting and the controversial roles of women and accounting in power relationships inside the household. Analyzing a Spanish upper-middle class Catholic family in the early nineteenth century, the research focuses on the reciprocal interaction of accounting with practices and processes of daily life in a rigid patriarchal socio-cultural and juridical context.

Design/methodology/approach

This microhistory draws upon several archives, including in Spain the Archivo Histórico Provincial de Cádiz. In England, the Bath Record Office has preserved documents and correspondence, both personal and business related, and the Worcester Record Office preserved notarial documents concerning the family. The large number of letters which have survived has facilitated an in-depth study of the people who were affected by accounting calculations.

Findings

In a juridical context where women were conceived as merely the means for the circulation of property between two families, the evidence shows that accounting provided the proof of women’s patrimony value and the means to facilitate their recovery in this cosification process. Although women had a little involvement in the household’s accounting and management, they demonstrated confidence in accounting, fulfilling a stewardship function for the resources received. Also, evidence shows that by using accounting practices to shield supposedly defenseless women, this reinforced male domination over women and promoted the view that the role of women was as an ornament and in need of a good husband.

Originality/value

Contrasting with the Anglo-Saxon contemporary context, the Spanish law preserved a woman’s property rights, guaranteeing recovery of properties owned by her before marriage should the marriage be legally annulled or be dissolved because one of the spouses’ death. This required a detailed accounting of the wife’s properties brought to her marriage, most especially regarding the dowry provided by her family.

Details

Accounting, Auditing & Accountability Journal, vol. 31 no. 4
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0951-3574

Keywords

Open Access
Article
Publication date: 8 July 2021

Valerio Antonelli, Michele Bigoni, Warwick Funnell and Emanuela Mattia Cafaro

The paper examines how accounting and accounting experts provided important contributions to the Italian government's strategy to address the COVID-19 emergency in 2020…

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Abstract

Purpose

The paper examines how accounting and accounting experts provided important contributions to the Italian government's strategy to address the COVID-19 emergency in 2020, especially in terms of implementing new rules of conduct and providing justification for penetrating interventions in the life of individuals.

Design/methodology/approach

The paper adopts an interdisciplinary approach by drawing upon Agamben's concepts of the state of exception, bare life and biosecurity to understand the purposes of the decrees issued by the Italian government and data provided to the citizens in the “daily bulletin” on the crisis by the Civil Protection Department.

Findings

Accounting data provided essential contributions to the government's strategy that sought to spread disquiet and uncertainty in the population to ensure compliance with the strict rules in place, thereby sustaining the management of the country under a state of exception.

Social implications

The study draws attention to the way in which accounting provides justification for measures that are promoted as provisional but which have enduring effects, most importantly the ability of governments in the future to suspend the rights of individuals. It shows how accounting can influence people's behaviour and contribute to the development of a permanent state of exception that significantly increases government prerogatives.

Originality/value

The work contributes to the literature on accounting and emergencies by studying the use of accounting information as a subtle means to ensure support for extreme government actions and ultimately as a political tool that promotes biosecurity as a new government paradigm.

Details

Accounting, Auditing & Accountability Journal, vol. 35 no. 1
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0951-3574

Keywords

Article
Publication date: 31 May 2019

Laura Maran, Warwick Funnell and Monia Castellini

The purpose of this paper is to understand the enduring, fundamental contributions of accounting practices in the pursuit of decentralization by governments, with an…

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to understand the enduring, fundamental contributions of accounting practices in the pursuit of decentralization by governments, with an examination of Peter Leopold’s reform of the municipalities in the late eighteenth century in Italy.

Design/methodology/approach

An extensive textual analysis of the very comprehensive collection of primary sources of the Grand Duchy of Tuscany during the de’ Medici and Hapsburg-Lorraine’s rule identified the reasons for Peter Leopold’s decision to decentralize his government’s authority and responsibilities. A systemic comparison of the 1765–1766 and 1775–1776 financial reports of the Municipality of Castrocaro and Terra del Sole disclosed the importance of the micro-practices of accounting and reporting for the reform.

Findings

In the context of the eighteenth century enlightenment, Peter Leopold legitimized his reform by the introduction of a modern style of government based on the rationalization of the municipal administrative system and decentralization of central authority and responsibility. The reform was made feasible by the substitution of a birth right principle with an economic discourse which linked tax payments to property ownership. This had the unintended consequence of increased taxes, higher municipal expenditures and possible inequalities between municipalities.

Research limitations/implications

The findings of the study are dependent on the resources which have survived and are now preserved in the official archives of Galeata and Florence. This work contributes to the extant literature on administrative reforms in a crucial period for the redefinition of sovereignty by the ruling classes, with the rise of the modern State. It extends historical understanding of the public sector with a focus on local government in the eighteenth century in a non-Anglo-Saxon context.

Practical implications

The examination of the reform of Peter Leopold contributes to an enhanced understanding of present-day decentralization by governments in the context of the new public management (NPM). It provides to NPM advocates a broader temporal and contextual understanding of the impact of current decentralization reforms.

Originality/value

Few accounting studies have considered the micro-aspects of decentralization reforms at the municipal level and tried to identify their impact on the wealth of the population. Moreover, Peter Leopold’s reform is considered one of the most innovative and enlightened of the eighteenth century, while the remainder of Europe was still overwhelmingly committed to the centralization of administrative apparatuses. Finally, this study relates to the multi-disciplinary debate about the recognition, qualification and accountization of the impact of decentralization of responsibility for the delivery of government services.

Details

Accounting, Auditing & Accountability Journal, vol. 32 no. 4
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0951-3574

Keywords

Article
Publication date: 27 October 2020

Michele Bigoni, Warwick Funnell, Enrico Deidda Gagliardo and Mariarita Pierotti

The study focusses on the complex interaction between ideological beliefs, culture and accounting by identifying during Benito Mussolini's time in power the contributions…

Abstract

Purpose

The study focusses on the complex interaction between ideological beliefs, culture and accounting by identifying during Benito Mussolini's time in power the contributions of accounting to the Italian Fascist repertoire of power in the cultural domain. It emphasises the importance of accounting in making the Alla Scala Opera House in Milan a vital institution in the creation of a Fascist national culture and identity which was meant to define the Fascist “Ethical State”.

Design/methodology/approach

The study adopts the Foucauldian concept of discourse in analysing the accounting practices of the Alla Scala Opera House.

Findings

Financial statements and related commentaries prepared by the Alla Scala Opera House were not primarily for ensuring good management and the minimisation of public funding in contrast to the practices and expectations of accounting in liberal States. Instead, the dominant Fascist discourse shaped the content and use of accounting and ensured that accounting practices could be a means to construct the Opera House as a “moral individual” that was to serve wider national interests consistent with the priorities of the Fascist Ethical State.

Research limitations/implications

The study identifies how accounting can be mobilised for ideological purposes in different ways which are not limited to supporting discourses inspired by logics of efficiency and profit. The paper also draws attention to the contributions of accounting discourses in shaping the identity of an organisation consistent with the priorities of those who hold the supreme authority in a society.

Social implications

The analysis of how the Fascist State sought to reinforce its power by making cultural institutions a critical part of this process provides the means to understand and unmask the taken-for-granted way in which discourses are created to promote power relations and related interests such as in the rise of far-right movements, most especially in weaker and more vulnerable countries at present.

Originality/value

Unlike most of the work on the relationship between culture and accounting which has emphasised liberal States, this study considers a non-liberal State and documents a use of accounting in the cultural domain which was not limited to promoting efficiency consistent with the priorities now recognised more recently of the New Public Management. It presents a micro-perspective on accounting as an ideological discourse by investigating the role of accounting in the exploitation of a cultural institution for political purposes.

Details

Accounting, Auditing & Accountability Journal, vol. 34 no. 1
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0951-3574

Keywords

Article
Publication date: 17 December 2019

Tiziana Di Cimbrini, Warwick Funnell, Michele Bigoni, Stefania Migliori and Augusta Consorti

The purpose of this paper is to examine the role of accounting in the enactment of the Napoleonic imperial project in Tuscany and the Kingdom of Naples in the early…

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to examine the role of accounting in the enactment of the Napoleonic imperial project in Tuscany and the Kingdom of Naples in the early nineteenth century.

Design/methodology/approach

The study adopts the Foucauldian theoretical framework of governmentality and a comparative approach to highlight similarities and differences between the two regions.

Findings

The presence of different cultural understandings and structures of power meant that in Tuscany accounting mirrored and reinforced the existing power structure, whereas in the Kingdom of Naples accounting practices were constitutive of power relations and acted as a compensatory mechanism. In the Kingdom of Naples, where local elites had been traditionally involved in ruling municipalities, control of accounting information and the use of resources “re-adjusted” the balance of power in favour of the French whilst letting local population believe that Napoleon was respectful of local customs.

Research limitations/implications

The ability of accounting technologies to act as compensatory mechanisms within governmentality systems paves the way to further investigations about the relationships between accounting and other governmentality technologies as well as the adjustment mechanisms leading to accounting resilience in different contexts.

Social implications

By identifying accounting as an adaptive instrument supporting less obvious practices of domination the study helps unmask a hidden mechanism underlying attempts to know, govern and control populations which still characterises modern forms of imperialism.

Originality/value

The comparative perspective leads to a new specification of the multifaceted roles that accounting plays in different cultural and political contexts in the achievement of the same set of imperial goals and enhances understanding of the translation of politics, rhetoric and power into a set of administrative tasks and calculative practices.

Details

Accounting, Auditing & Accountability Journal, vol. 33 no. 2
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0951-3574

Keywords

Article
Publication date: 19 June 2017

Warwick Funnell, Valerio Antonelli, Raffaele D’Alessio and Roberto Rossi

The purpose of this paper is to understand the role played by accounting in managing an early nineteenth century lunatic asylum in Palermo, Italy.

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to understand the role played by accounting in managing an early nineteenth century lunatic asylum in Palermo, Italy.

Design/methodology/approach

The paper is informed by Foucault’s studies of lunatic asylums and his work on governmentality which gave prominence to the role of statistics, the “science of the State”.

Findings

This paper identifies a number of roles played by accounting in the management of the lunatic asylum studied. Most importantly, information which formed the basis of accounting reports was used to describe, classify and give visibility and measurability to the “deviance” of the insane. It also legitimated the role played by lunatic asylums, as entrusted to them in post-Napoleonic early nineteenth century society, and was a tool to mediate with the public authorities to provide adequate resources for the institution to operate.

Research limitations/implications

This paper encourages accounting scholars to engage more widely with socio-historical research that will encompass organisations such as lunatic asylums.

Originality/value

This paper provides, for the first time, a case of accounting applied to a lunatic asylum from a socio-historical perspective.

Details

Accounting, Auditing & Accountability Journal, vol. 30 no. 5
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0951-3574

Keywords

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