The importance of historical understanding applies to business and accounting as much as to any other field. The current activities of regulatory institutions, companies and other business organisations are very much grounded in the past. They have been influenced by the societies with which they interact and the settings in which they operate. History can inform our appreciation of contemporary business behaviour and accounting practice through its "power of unifying the past, present and future"*. The activities of companies and the way in which they communicate with the world, through accounting information, is both valued and, at times, the subject of criticism. Scholarly activity analysing and critiquing the historical activity of institutions and commercial organisations, helps us to provide a framework for evaluating their impact upon contemporary society.
The Centre for Accounting and Business History promotes such scholarly activity in all areas of accounting and business history. Established as a forum for the cluster of academic scholars currently undertaking research in the broad areas of accounting and business history at QMUL, the Centre sets out to:
- Encourage scholarly work and exchange of ideas among members
- Provide a platform for the advancement of historical accounting and business research
- Produce internationally regarded output
- Assist in developing and disseminating accounting and business history research findings and methodologies
- Demonstrate the relevance of history to contemporary accounting and business activity
- Promote the teaching of accounting and business history as an integral part of the teaching of the School of Business and Management
- Promote the need for continued research in accounting and business history by supporting new scholars in the field
* Carnegie, G. D. and C. J. Napier (2012). "Accounting's past, present and future: The unifying power of history." Accounting, Auditing and Accountability Journal 25(2): 328-369.
The Centre draws upon the expertise of a cluster of academics who have undertaken research drawing upon a variety of perspectives and methodologies and range chronologically from the eighteenth century (McCartney on the financial reporting and profitability of early railway companies) to the post-war period (Maielli on technological change and the introduction of robots at Fiat in the 1970's/80's). Investigations have also focused on globalisation and corruption and relations between companies and local regulators (Bakre). Centre members have engaged in ground-breaking scholarship, publishing books in a variety of fields of interest:
- Selling Hitler: Propaganda and the Nazi Brand by Professor Nicholas O'Shaughnessy
- Accountancy and Empire: The British Legacy of Professional Organisation by Dr Suki Sian
- Varieties of Capitalism in History, Transition and Emergence: New Perspectives on Institutional Development by Dr Martha Prevezer
Recent PhD students linked to the Centre: Marrisa Joseph conducted research into the publishing industry in late-Victorian Britain and Ramin Nassehi studied industrial policy in Iran under the Pahlavi regime.