Accounting at the London School of Economics: Opportunity Lost?
22 Pages Posted: 5 Apr 2011
Date Written: November 1, 2009
Given the aims of the founders of the London School of Economics, it is not surprising that accounting should have been taught at the School from soon after its establishment. An early focus on teaching practical accounting, with professional practitioners as teachers, was gradually supplanted by approaches informed by the economics of decision-making in conditions of scarce resources. By the 1930s, the Department of Business Administration provided an intellectual basis for thinking about financial reporting and costing that challenged taken-for-granted practices. After World War II, the “LSE Triumvirate” of William Baxter, Harold Edey and David Solomons took forward ideas of opportunity cost and value to the owner as core theoretical concepts, while developing undergraduate and later postgraduate programmes that provided rigorous education for future accountants, administrators, business people and academics. However, by the late 1960s, the Department of Accounting missed the opportunity of responding to changes in research focus in North America, which were influenced by developments in financial economics. The outcome was an erosion of research leadership, with other UK universities becoming the main centres of quantitative and critical accounting research.
Keywords: Accounting ideas, value to the owner, opportunity cost, economics of accounting, accounting education
JEL Classification: M41
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation