Carnegie, Garry D

Volume 10, Number 2 of Accounting History is a bumper issue and comprises six articles, including a book review article. It features contributions dealing with accounting’s past in Australia, Canada, Ireland, the United Kingdom and the United States.

Chandar and Miranti examine the institutional and informational changes that attended the reform of corporate governance and regulation in the United States railroad industry during the three decades after the depression of 1893. This era was marked by extensive bankruptcy in what was the nation’s largest business sector at the time. The study adopts an evolutionary conception of agency in seeking to explain how regulatory institutions emerged in response to corporate failure in the industry. Reforms in the use of accounting information within the corporate governance system are shown to be slow due to the effects of the proposed changes on the economic interests of the many stakeholder interests involved.

Gaps between the views of the judiciary and audit practitioners are identified and examined by Teo and Cobbin in their study on the role of the auditor in late-Victorian England. The authors make extensive use of transcripts of judicial decisions and the professional literature of the times to demonstrate the existence of a significant inconsistency in views held on the bench and within the accounting profession, causing a disjoint between the bench and the profession. Similar inconsistencies of mindsets manifest themselves today as represented by the “audit expectations gap” term which is intended to encapsulate differing expectations of the users of financial statements and audit practitioners about the audit function.

The cross national study by McWatters and Foreman compares and constrasts the accounting practices of companies in the meat-packing industry in Australia and Canada during the period spanned by World War I. The authors show that the impact of the war was markedly different on the companies concerned due to the different contextual conditions which applied in each country. The subject companies whose wartime accounting records are investigated are the Sydney Meat Preserving Company Ltd and the William Davies Company Ltd of Canada. Despite the changed conditions experienced by these companies during the period, it is shown that neither made any significant modifications to their accounting systems.

Clarke examines the life and career of Professor Bernard (Barney) Francis Shields and affords the late academic the acknowledgement of being the first fulltime professor of accountancy in the British Isles. Born in 1884 in Dublin, Shields was appointed as Professor of Commerce and Accountancy at University College, Gal way in 1914. At the time of appointment, Ireland was politically part of the United Kingdom. Shields is shown to have spent 37 years of his working life in academe.

McDonald uses the Domesday Book, in particular the accounting data contained therein, to shed light on eleventh century English society. In particular, the efficiency of medieval manorial production is compared with that of more modern economies and the impacts of manorialism and feudalism on production are assessed. The author argues that the evidence shows that manorial production was not haphazardly organised as has been previously argued.

The final contribution is a book review article by Lee on the work entitled Mark-to-Market Accounting: “True North” in Financial Reporting as authored by Walter Schuetze and edited by Peter Wolnizer. The author’s background is in practice rather than academe, thus making this contribution particularly telling, especially for those who seek to benefit from the lessons of history by striving to improve corporate financial reports so that they depict “economic reality”.

The call for papers for a special issue on the theme entitled “International Perspectives on Race and Gender in Accounting’s Past”, to be guest edited by Marcia Annisette, appears on the inside back cover if this issue. Authors with an interest in preparing a submission for this special issue are encouraged to contact the guest editor at the earliest convenience. This special issue is scheduled to be published in 2007.

Copyright Accounting History Special Interest Group of Accounting Association of Australia and New Zealand School of Accounting and Finance Jul 2005

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