The Institute of Accounts: Nineteenth Century Origins of Accounting Professionalism in the United States

By Stephen E. Loeb; Paul J. Miranti Jr. | Go to book overview

3

Functionality of the IA and its role in professionalization

Problems facing bookkeeping in the U. S. in the late nineteenth century

The professional programs that the IA promoted were appealing to many bookkeepers because they were responsive to serious problems associated with working as a bookkeeper. Many of the IA’s bookkeepers were likely concerned about their marginal economic status (see the discussion in “Compensation vs. Services, ” 1881, pp. 136-137). Bookkeepers, for example, likely were sensitive to their relative low rate of pay as compared to other business specialists such as salesmen (“Compensation vs. Services, ” 1881, pp. 136-137). Thus, bookkeepers were vulnerable to destitution should they become unemployed. A sensitivity to this insecurity was reflected in the above-noted goals of establishing life insurance and employment referral services (also see Webster, 1954, p. 12).

A second problem was the marginal image of bookkeepers as sources of authority in accounting matters. This lack of authority was largely a function of the limited educational infrastructure available to prepare and certify candidates’ fitness for professional accounting careers. Unlike the situation in law, engineering, and medicine (see the discussion in Collins, 1979, pp. 141-142, 150-155, 163-171; Calvert, 1967, chapters 3-5; McMillan, 1998b, pp. 118-119), little had been done to forge strong connections between accounting

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The Institute of Accounts: Nineteenth Century Origins of Accounting Professionalism in the United States
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page v
  • Contents ix
  • Foreword xi
  • Acknowledgments xiii
  • 1 - Introduction 1
  • 2 - Origins, Goals, Membership, and Professional Characteristics 7
  • 3 - Functionality of the Ia and Its Role in Professionalization 22
  • 4 - The Structure of Accounting Knowledge and the Natural Order of Society 28
  • 5 - Decline of the Ia 43
  • 6 - Legacy 60
  • Notes 68
  • References 76
  • Index 103
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