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The development of management accounting in UK clearing banks, 1920-70

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There is a perception that, in the British banks which dominated the industry for much of the twentieth century, management accounting was limited in scope and contributed to a general inefficiency in these institutions. Various official reports published from the 1960s until very recently have reinforced this view. However, some authors have argued that the banks were more sophisticated in their management than such criticisms would imply. This paper investigates the role, development and limitations of management accounting in the sector, drawing on archival evidence and relating this to the more general development of management accounting. In advancing our understanding, evidence is found to support both views.

Keywords: British banks; accounting history; management accounting

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: 1: Faculty of Organisation and Management Sheffield Hallam University Sheffield S1 1WB UK +44 114 225 5022 +44 114 225 5331, Email: 2: Faculty of Finance Cass Business School 106 Bunhill Row London EC1Y 8TZ UK +44 20 7040 8730 +44 20 7040 8881, Email:

Publication date: November 1, 2004

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