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Language in pursuit of professional branding: The case of scientific costing

Parker, Lee D. and Boyns, Trevor ORCID: 2019. Language in pursuit of professional branding: The case of scientific costing. British Accounting Review 51 (2) , pp. 193-210. 10.1016/

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The period between the 1880s and 1930 witnessed the development of concepts and discourses associated with costing as a science. Against this background, and in the context of the professionalization campaign pursued by the newly established Institute of Cost and Works Accountants (formed in 1919), we employ insights from hermeneutic analysis to examine the ascendancy and subsequent demise of 'scientific costing' as a branding strategy. Building on the earlier work of Loft (1986, 1990), we place these developments within both the internal machinations of the Institute in its early years and the wider context of the business, professional and regulatory environment of the period. We find that the rise and fall from favour of 'scientific costing' was conditioned by a number of contextual factors, not least the changing environment of the early decades of the twentieth century surrounding the emergence of scientism, its links to the efficiency gospel, and a changing rhetoric which shifted towards a business budgeting discourse. These, together with difficulties in finding a common specification of 'scientific costing' limited its usefulness as an organisational branding strategy. Implications are drawn from our study for contemporary attempts to develop branding strategies by professional accounting bodies.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: Business (Including Economics)
Additional Information: Released with a Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial No Derivatives License (CC BY-NC-ND)
Publisher: Elsevier
ISSN: 0890-8389
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 17 September 2018
Date of Acceptance: 7 September 2018
Last Modified: 25 Oct 2022 14:11

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