Publication Details

This article was originally published as Ville, S and Fleming, G, Desperately Seeking Synergy: Interdisciplinary Research in Accounting and Business History, Pacific Accounting Review, 11(2), 1999/2000, 173-80. Original journal avialable here.


In responding to the recent call for interdisciplinary research where synergies can be gained and institutional knowledge broadened, it is argued that a particularly strong case exists for aligning work on business and accounting history. The greater breadth and context about the structure of firms and their operating environment provided by business history facilitates an enhanced understanding of the forces that have driven the changing provision of management accounting services. In turn, it might be argued that historians analyzing the success or failure of firms can learn much by studying more closely the appropriateness of the accounting systems that they have adopted. While integrated studies of business and accounting history have been undertaken in other countries, there are dangers in applying their conclusions to Australasia because of the distinctive aspects of local experience. The importance of primary industries, high levels of concentration, a close state-big business relationship and the influence of multinationals differentiate Australasian experience from contemporaneous experience in other Western economies. Such distinctiveness also provides opportunities to look at central research questions from a different perspective.



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