Category Archives: Defense

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

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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

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

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.

Cartoons as alternative accounting: front-line supply in the First World War

AHR coverMiley, F. M., & Read, A. F. (2014). Cartoons as alternative accounting: front-line supply in the First World War. Accounting History Review, 24(2-3), 161-189. doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/21552851.2014.967932

Abstract

The accounting system that supported the provision of supplies to the Western Front during the First World War had some inadequacies from the perspective of the soldier on the front line. These inadequacies are revealed through the cartoons drawn by Bruce Bairnsfather, a front-line officer in the British Army. Our examination shows that cartoons can provide source material for accounting histories. It also shows that cartoons can be considered as a form of accounting themselves and, in doing so, stretches the epistemological boundaries of accounting.

Link to journal