Towards an understanding of changing accounting practice using institutional theory: the case of the royal tobacco factory of Seville

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This paper is initially informed byan institutional theoretical framework developed by Fligstein (1993) to analyse changes in accounting practices that took place in the Royal Tobacco Factory (RTF) of Seville during the period 1760-1790. Deploying the institutional theory framework, it is possible to argue that the significantly greater development and use of accounting practices during that period can be linked to the move to the much larger and more purpose-built new factories, the dec1ine in total tobacco consumption and the pressure to increase revenue for the Spanish Crown while redllcing prodllction cost and maintaining high product quality to deter entry. These new accollnting practices may have developed in part with the intent of improving factory efticiency. It is also arglled that these new accollnting practices provided enhanced external legitimacy for the RTF in the face of the events discussed aboye and cOllld have contributed to the long survival of de RTF as a monopolist. The paper, however, suggests that typologies such as the one developed by Fligstein are too restrictive in linking the emergence of specific organizational actions (e.g. accollnting practises) as a response to a particular organizational typology, in Fligstein's case a conception of control. The paper conc1udes by suggesting that it may be best to refrain from conceptllalizing the rise of accounting practices in terms of strict matching with other organizational parameters, such as strategy, structure, or mode of control.
Institutional theory, Accounting change, Accollnting History
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