Publication Details

This article was originally published as Abraham, A, The struggle to develop accounting practices in the Australian Girl Guides, 1945-9: a microhistorical approach, Accounting History, 13 (1), 2008, 101-120.


There has been limited accounting history research in the areas of nonprofit organisations and women in a non-business environment. This paper addresses these two gaps by considering accounting history in a large female-managed nonprofit organisation, the Australian Girl Guides Association (GGA). To do this the paper uses a microhistorical reconstruction of an individual to penetrate underlying motivations (Parker, 1999, p. 31) and to allow the reader “to draw conclusions from a story that illustrates a fragment of peoples’ lives and activities” (Williams, 1999, p. 75) by revealing what would otherwise be unknown about the struggle to develop appropriate accounting practices in the context of organisational culture and history. It discloses that pertinent recommendations by GGA’s fourth treasurer, Mrs O’Malley Wood, were ignored by management in a fiscally irresponsible manner. This paper demonstrates that by focussing close attention on a seemingly minor individual, the researcher is able to discover the possible constraints that shaped human behaviour at specific moment in history.



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