The development of modern accounting and the changing position of shareholders 1864 - 2000
Pitts, Marianne V. (2002) The development of modern accounting and the changing position of shareholders 1864 - 2000. PhD thesis, University of Warwick.
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Official URL: http://webcat.warwick.ac.uk/record=b1665970~S15
This dissertation consists of a set of four sole-authored, reviewed and published papers
which develop the theme that company accounting policies, particularly those relating
to asset valuation, depreciation and dividend policy, developed in response to a change
in the general perception of the nature of the property rights of the original owners.
The original owners of commercial and industrial concerns in the early nineteenth
century were the partners. After incorporation they and others became the
shareholders of the company.
The origin of commercial and industrial companies as partnerships influenced the
British government and legal thinking for nearly a century from 1856 to 1945, the date
of the Cohen Committee. It was the age of laissez-faire and has been much discussed:
Parliament was less keen to intervene in connection with the generality of companies,
where the view expressed in 1856 by Robert Lowe, then President of the Board of
Trade, that `having given [companies] a pattern the State leaves then to manage their
own affairs ...
(quoted in Hein, 1978, p. 149) provided a rationalization of the
widespread belief that it was no business of the state to interfere in what were seen as
private contracts between shareholders (Sugarman and-Rubin, 1984, p. 12). Moreover,
a laissez-faire approach on the part of the courts, where `formalist' views were at their
height (Atiyah, 1979, pp. 388-97), seems also to have affected the attitude to accounts
on the part of the courts. This may be observed in the series of `dividend' cases in the
nineteenth century (French, 1977) where judges on the whole were loath to go beyond the companies' Articles of Association and the latter of the Companies' Acts (unless
they could adduce fraudulent or improper behaviour on the part of directors) in
assessing matters of valuation, income measurement and profit determination.
(Napier and Noke, 1992, p. 38, emphasis added).
These issues `matters of valuation, income measurement and profit determination'
form the basis for much of this dissertation. There is one further paper extending the
work of Jefferys (1938) and Cottrell (1980) on the format of share issues from 1914
|Item Type:||Thesis or Dissertation (PhD)|
|Subjects:||H Social Sciences > HF Commerce
H Social Sciences > HG Finance
|Library of Congress Subject Headings (LCSH):||Accounting -- History -- 19th century, Accounting -- History -- 20th century, Stockholders -- History -- 19th century, Stockholders -- History -- 20th century, Corporations -- History -- 19th century, Corporations -- History -- 20th century|
|Official Date:||September 2002|
|Institution:||University of Warwick|
|Theses Department:||Warwick Business School|
|Supervisor(s)/Advisor:||Davidson, Ian R.|
|Sponsors:||Economic and Social Research Council (Great Britain) (ESRC)|
|Extent:||1 v. (various pagings)|
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