“The double account system in nineteenth century U.K. railways: an analysis from an accounting theory perspective”

Williams, C 2014, “The double account system in nineteenth century U.K. railways: an analysis from an accounting theory perspective”, Masters by Research, Accounting, RMIT University.


Document type: Thesis
Collection: Theses

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Title “The double account system in nineteenth century U.K. railways: an analysis from an accounting theory perspective”
Author(s) Williams, C
Year 2014
Abstract This thesis investigates the extent to which our knowledge of modern systems oriented accounting theories can explain the shortcomings in nineteenth century financial reporting as carried out by the railway companies. The work is not intended to be a thesis on history. Nor is it a thesis on accounting theories. Rather, the work looks at historical events from the perspective of a modern accountant. The two main questions addressed by this thesis are whether it is feasible to use modern systems oriented accounting theories to investigate and explain the historical events covered in this study and whether the Double Account System achieved its aims. The paper contains a brief outline of the development and collapse of the UK railway companies in the mid-nineteenth century. The paper then considers the purpose of accounting and whether it is merely a measuring tool or a social instrument. The place of accounting within the social context is considered and concludes that accounting has developed into a social instrument.

The work then examines the railway companies’ accounting system, The Double Account System. The paper looks at the origin and development of the system and explains its workings. As part of this investigation the paper considers the aims of the Double Account System and considers whether the system achieved its aims or not. The thesis then examines three accounting theories that have been called system oriented theories and relates the concepts in the theories to the accounting reports of the nineteenth century railway companies in the United Kingdom. The theories examined are Legitimacy Theory, Stakeholder theory and Institutional Theory. The paper concludes that it is feasible to use modern systems oriented accounting theories to investigate and explain the historical events covered in the study. The work also concludes that the Double Account System did achieve what it was meant to achieve but that the aims of the system were limited, especially when viewed through the lens of modern accounting theories and concepts.

Degree Masters by Research
Institution RMIT University
School, Department or Centre Accounting
Keyword(s) Nineteenth century British railway accounting
Double Account System
systems oriented accounting theories.
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Created: Fri, 10 Oct 2014, 09:14:53 EST by Denise Paciocco
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