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Accountability in a Free Market Economy. The British Company Audit 1886

Anderson, Malcolm, Edwards, John Richard and Matthews, Derek 1997. Accountability in a Free Market Economy. The British Company Audit 1886. Abacus 33 (1) , pp. 1-25. 10.1111/1467-6281.00001

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The relative merits of market forces compared with regulations as the more efficient mechanism for ensuring adequate accountability from business (and non-business) organizations is a subject of keen debate. Britain in the second half of the nineteenth century is regularly cited as an example of how the market will ensure adequate accountability in the absence of regulatory requirements. There is a great deal of speculation but very little hard evidence concerning the precise levels of accountability during this period. This study is designed to penetrate contemporary attitudes and actions by using primary sources to determine the audit arrangements made by quoted companies in the year 1886. It is discovered that professionally qualified accountants generally, and chartered accountants in particular, had achieved a dominant position by 1886, and possibly rather earlier; a finding which is also used to illuminate the question of the nature of the professional accountants' work in the late nineteenth century.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: Business (Including Economics)
ISSN: 1467-6281
Last Modified: 28 Jun 2019 02:21

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