The rise of modern accounting and the fall of the public company: the Lancashire cotton mills 1870-1914

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This paper analyses the main features of a system of open corporate accountability to active working and middle class investors supported by an evolving capital market operating in late nineteenth century Lancashire. The economic causes and social consequences of the collapse of this system are documented and examined with special reference to the process of accounting change. Centralization of share ownership was associated with the rise of a clique of new investors skilled at mill flotation. This new group of shareholder-entrepreneurs is shown to be the instigator accounting manipulation. Social capital demanded accurate financial information. Co-operative governance allowed shareholders a temporarily effective means of achieving this.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)61-84
Number of pages23
JournalAccounting Organizations and Society
Issue number1-2
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2002

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