Author Archives: Andrew Read

Rugby-mad accounting academic. My research interests are in accounting history, accounting and popular culture, government accounting, and accounting education. My teaching interests focus on using technology to enhance engagement, using stories in teaching, and making teaching more efficient.

Their name liveth for evermore: Accounting for the human cost of war

Miley, F. M., & Read, A. F. (2017). Their name liveth for evermore: Accounting for the human cost of war. Paper presented at the 40th Annual Congress of the European Accounting Association, Valencia.

Abstract:  The currency of war is human life yet the cost of human life lost in war remains an under-researched area of accounting.  This research uses a qualitative and historical research design to consider accounting for the cost of human life lost in war, contending that war cemeteries are accounting reports.  Through a qualitative and historical approach, the accounting content of war cemeteries built by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission, and it predecessors, is considered.  The planning and building of these cemeteries is examined to illustrate key features of the cemeteries as accounting reports and the information content they were designed to convey.  In addition, the transformative power of accounting is considered to illustrate how meaning has been transformed over time in the interpretation of the cemeteries as accounting reports.  The cemeteries were built after the First World War.  Three time periods are examined to demonstrate shifts in meaning: in the inter-war period, Cold War period, and contemporary period.  This research suggests the epistemological and ontological boundaries of accounting are already able to accommodate war cemeteries and their construction as accounting reports.  This research highlights the heteroglossic dimensions of accounting provided by the power of users to give meaning to accounting disclosures.

Full paper available from ResearchGate

The relationship between accounting and shell shock in British Army Medical Units 1914-18

Miley, F. M., & Read, A. F. (2017). The relationship between accounting and shell shock in British Army Medical Units 1914-18. Paper presented at the 40th Annual Congress of the European Accounting Association, Valencia.

This paper is an updated version of:

  • Accounting and medicine: British Army medical units and shell shock during the First World War
  • “Broken and mad”: Accounting, shell shock and the British Army medical unit 1914-18

Abstract:  This research examines the role of accounting in creating and enforcing stigma.  To do this, we consider the accounting practices used by British Army Medical Units during the First World War and the way those practices contributed to the stigmatisation of soldiers suffering from shell shock.  At the time shell shock was a little understood disease.  Many questioned whether it was a real illness or whether sufferers were actually malingerers and cowards and medical units.  The introduction of onerous accounting procedures for men treated for shell shock and ineffective budgeting methods that led to inadequate resourcing of medical units created tensions that added to the stigmatisation of men with shell shock. We examine how the complexity of accounting by medical units intermediated between those imposing stigma and those stigmatised.  Accounting procedures can both contribute to and alleviate stigma.  We conclude that the relationship between accounting and stigma is complex and multi-faceted and should be considered in its societal context and conjunction with other stigmatising aspects of society.

Full paper is available from ResearchGate

Believing the impossible: the use of visual metaphor to surprise accounting students

Miley, F. M., & Read, A. F. (2017). Believing the impossible: the use of visual metaphor to surprise accounting students. Paper presented at the BAFA Accounting Education SIG Annual Conference 2017, Cardiff.

Abstract:  To explain the concept of faithful representation in accounting, four works of art were presented to students.  By using the works of art as visual metaphors for different artistic approaches to faithful representation, students were able to construct shared meaning that helped them understand the application of faithful representation in an accounting context.  In this research, we explore the responses of the students to the works of art, how the art-works created dialogue that helped students to construct meaning in accounting, and student responses to the use of visual metaphor as a teaching technique in accounting.

Full paper is available from ResearchGate

The purgatorial shadows of war: Accounting, blame and shell shock pensions, 1914–1923

Miley, F. M., & Read, A. F. (2017). The purgatorial shadows of war: Accounting, blame and shell shock pensions 1914-1923. Accounting History, 22(1), 5-28. doi:10.1177/1032373216656648

Abstract:  This research analyses the role of accounting in British disablement pensions awarded to men who sustained shell shock during their Army service in the First World War. In this context, “accounting” refers to the classification of medical conditions when determining pension eligibility and awards. Pension classifications were prejudiced towards men with physical disabilities and against men with shell shock. Accounting classification’s ability to make a medical condition invisible is central to this research. The invisibility of shell shock as a medical condition in the pension classification system led to financial discrimination against men with shell shock. The immorality of this discrimination was hidden by a system of accounting classification that distanced decision-makers from the ramifications of their decisions. In addition, the Minister of Pensions adopted blame avoidance techniques to protect his Ministry and the British government from criticism occasioned by the discriminatory treatment of men with shell shock.

Full paper available from Accounting History

Accounting and medicine: British Army medical units and shell shock during the First World War

Miley, F. M., & Read, A. F. (2016). Accounting and medicine: British Army medical units and shell shock during the First World War. Paper presented at the 14th World Congress of Accounting Historians, Pescara.

Abstract: This research enhances our understanding of the role of accounting in creating and enforcing stigma. We examine the accounting practices of British Army medical units during the First World War, focusing on forward medical units which were located immediately behind a battle area to provide the first place for medical evacuation and treatment outside a fighting zone. Inflexible and inappropriate accounting processes placed an onerous burden on these units, causing medical and management difficulties which had a direct impact on the classification, triaging and treatment of men requiring medical attention. While disadvantaging all men requiring medical treatment, the accounting issues surrounding forward line medical units proved particularly problematic for men with shell shock, contributing to their stigmatisation. Our research suggests that stigma can be the unintended consequence of an accounting system.

Full paper available through Andrew Read’s ResearchGate page

In the valley of the shadow of death : Accounting and identity in Thai-Burma Railway prison camps 1942-45

Miley, F. M., & Read, A. F. (2016). In the valley of the shadow of death : Accounting and identity in Thai-Burma Railway prison camps 1942-45. Paper presented at the 14th World Congress of Accounting Historians, Pescara.

Abstract: This research uses an historical qualitative approach that focuses on archival information supported by oral testimonies to examine accounting records by soldiers serving in the Australian Army during the Second World War. The unique feature of these records is that they were kept by men who were prisoners of war forced to work as slave labourers in Japanese labour camps to build the Thai-Burma railway. They were not permitted to have supplies that would enable them to keep accounting records, nor were they permitted to make any formal accounting records so these records were made and hidden at great personal risk. The punishment making and keeping these records was torture and/or death. The records are artefacts that were important for supporting a group identity for the prisoners as soldiers, counterbalancing the Japanese construction of the prisoner of war as shameful and worthless. Social identity theory developed from prisoner of war experiences and indicates the importance of artefacts that support positive group identity. We suggest that this example may reveal that accounting records are fundamental to society because they evidence and record social group membership.

Full paper available through Andrew Read’s ResearchGate page

Go gentle babe: Accounting and the London Foundling Hospital 1757–97

Miley, F. M., & Read, A. F. (2016). Go gentle babe: Accounting and the London Foundling Hospital 1757–97. Accounting History, 21(2-3), 167-184. doi:10.1177/1032373216644259

Abstract:  The London Foundling Hospital was a charitable institution established to turn children of the poor into virtuous and industrious members of society. Poverty-stricken parents gave their children, known as foundlings, to the hospital which cared for and educated them until they could be placed into employment. Since eighteenth-century Britain stigmatized and marginalized the poor, viewing them as immoral and indigent. An important aspect of the charity’s function was (re)creating stigmatized foundling identities so they could leave the hospital as accepted members of mainstream society. This research examines the role of accounting in supporting the hospital’s efforts to (re)create stigmatized identities. We examine the plethora of records the hospital maintained about every aspect of the children’s lives, which were both mechanisms of surveillance and control and evidence of the hospital’s successful efforts in moulding the foundlings into virtuous and industrious members of society. The hospital did not distinguish between financial and non-financial records, ensuring both were regularly reviewed and audited before being made available to selected members of the public. We contrast the public availability of these records, which evidenced hospital (re)created identities, with the hospital’s secrecy surrounding tokens, small items given by a parent when hospitalizing a child. We contend that the tokens were a form of accounting record that represented stigmatized identities of the poor and had to be hidden so they could be replaced with (re)created acceptable identities. We conclude that examining accounting records maintained by the hospital provides insights into the role accounting can play in supporting the work of charitable institutions seeking to create social acceptability for stigmatized groups.

Full paper available from Accounting History

Accounting lessons from a medieval woman: The writing of Christine de Pisan

Miley, F.M. & Read, A.F. (2016). Accounting lessons from a medieval woman: The writing of Christine de Pisan. Paper presented at the 39th European Accounting Association Annual Congress, Maastricht.

Abstract: Extant research in accounting history has viewed double-entry bookkeeping as a development of single-entry bookkeeping, also known as charge and discharge accounting, that was either prompted by the rise of mercantilism or capitalism. This has led to historical research in accounting that seeks to uncover early examples of the purposes ascribed to double-entry booking in examples of early financial accounts were prepared using single-entry bookkeeping. This research seeks to enhance our understanding of accounting by using the writing of Christine de Pisan, a medieval Italian-French writer, on the nature and purpose of single-entry bookkeeping to demonstrate that single-entry bookkeeping is not a simpler or earlier version of double-entry bookkeeping but a separate approach to bookkeeping which should be considered in its own right. We turn to philosophy of science and draw an analogy using Lakatos’ methodology of scientific research programmes to understand why single-entry and double-entry bookkeeping co-existed for many centuries and why double-entry bookkeeping became dominant.

Full paper available through Andrew Read’s ResearchGate page

Spies, debt and the well-spent penny: accounting and the Lisle agricultural estates 1533–1540

Miley, F.M. & Read, A.F (2016). Spies, debt and the well-spent penny: accounting and the Lisle agricultural estates 1533–1540. Accounting History Review, 26(2), 83-105. doi: 10.1080/21552851.2016.1187638.

Abstract: The Lisle family was one of the wealthiest families in England during the early Tudor period. Its wealth came primarily from agricultural estates. This research examines the family’s accounting during the period 1533–1540. We examine the family’s use of correspondence to an extensive network of spies, called privy friends, to secure allegiances, obtain information and help the family increase its agricultural landholdings. We also examine the use of correspondence to facilitate cash flow through strategies to manage indebtedness. While the family’s agricultural holdings ensured its continuing wealth, the management of indebtedness, gifts and payments to privy friends were important for wealth accumulation. The strategies used by the Lisle family were responses to a turbulent, uncertain and ever-shifting political environment. We conclude that Tudor manorial estate accounting systems included both financial accounts and correspondence and that both must be considered when analysing the role of accounting information in single-entry accounting systems.

Full paper available from Accounting History Review.

The purgatorial shadows of war: Accounting, blame and shell shock pensions 1914-23

Miley, F.M. & Read, A.F. (2015). The purgatorial shadows of war: Accounting, blame and shell shock pensions 1914-23. Paper presented at eighth Accounting History International Conference, Ballarat.

Abstract: This research is a qualitative analysis of the role of accounting in British disablement pensions awarded to men who sustained shell shock during their Army service in the First World War. It suggests that accounting classification of shell shock for pension determination purposes supported a view of shell shock which made men with shell shock scapegoats of a system that was often unsupportive. Accounting classification contributed to the lack of support by distancing pension decision-makers from the moral consequences of pension determinations. This was able to occur because the British government used accounting classification as part of a mechanism to avoid blame for its pension determination choices. This research contributes to an ongoing debate about the role of government by suggesting that the functions of government provide opportunities for accounting to simultaneously serve a neutral role as mere inscription while being a social and moral construct.

Paper available through Andrew Read’s ResearchGate page.