Degree Name

Master of Commerce (Hons.)


Department of Accountancy


This thesis argues the accounting professional bodies (APB) consciously use education as a method of gaining power. Through manipulating education they are able to gain power over employers, power which they can convert into social rewards for the individual members. They are therefore using a variation on the collective action methods pioneered by trade unions. The use of education was developed by accountants in Scotland in the mid-nineteenth century, because the Industrial Revolution first made the method viable there due to the coming together of a number of historical factors. Prime amongst these factors was that the newly emerging trade unions were indicating a viable model of collective action which the accountants were able to modify. Particularly, they could use education to protect the individual accountant in the work place from employers who would react aggressively against any overt collective action perceived as confrontational. The evidence, collected from the history of APBs in Scotland, England, Australia, Canada and the United States, suggests education provided a cover to deflect employer hostility. Further it is shown that the accounting professional bodies in the United States are today using education in a similar manner when they are calling for increased periods of accounting education.



Unless otherwise indicated, the views expressed in this thesis are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of the University of Wollongong.