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Durham e-Theses
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Accounting and estate management in North-East England c.1700-1770 with particular reference to the Bowes estates

McCollum-Oldroyd, David Andrew (1998) Accounting and estate management in North-East England c.1700-1770 with particular reference to the Bowes estates. Masters thesis, Durham University.



Through the accounts, the thesis examines estate accounting and management practice in the north-east of England, with special reference to the Bowes, in order to ascertain whether estates were managed efficiently as productive investments, and whether accounting aided managerial activity at this early stage of industrial development. George Bowes was the estate proprietor for most of the period in question. His active involvement in the day-to day operations of his estates, coupled with the geographical spread of his activities and his distance from events, necessitated a centralised organisational structure, that was capable of delegating responsibility to stewards in key areas, whilst, at the same time, retaining control at the centre. This was achieved through a unified reporting network, which ensured that management and accounting practices were highly integrated over different activities. Generally, the accounts were based on the bilateral recording of cash receipts and payments, with adjustments for opening and closing debtors, creditors and stocks as appropriate. Charge and discharge accounts did not predominate. Most of the accounts were prepared by the stewards. The majority of the estate accounts were designed to keep track of rights and obligations. There was a close linkage between the form of the accounts and the mode of organisational control, and the accounting procedures were flexible enough to respond to organisational changes. Written agreements underpinned the contractual obligations of third parties, and accounts were used to monitor compliance. Internal audit checks increased their effectiveness as a control mechanism. The survival of cost analysis, profit statements and planning data indicates that profit maximisation was also an important issue - the estates were not treated simply as units of consumption - and that the accounts played an important facilitating role. Colliery viewers were instrumental here. There are indications that a knowledge-power mechanism also existed within the estates, casting doubt on both the mutual- exclusivity of particular explanations of accounting activities, and on the notion that a relevant distinction exists between 'modern' and 'pre-modern' business organisation.

Item Type:Thesis (Masters)
Award:Master of Philosophy
Thesis Date:1998
Copyright:Copyright of this thesis is held by the author
Deposited On:13 Sep 2012 15:50

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