Accounting and Management Discourse in Protoindustrial Settings: The Venice Arsenal in the Turn of the XVI Century

Accounting and Business Research, 2004

Posted: 8 May 2009

See all articles by Luca Zan

Luca Zan

University of Bologna - Department of Management

Date Written: 2004

Abstract

This paper investigates managerial ideas and accounting notions developing at the Venetian state shipyard, the Arsenal, in the turn of the 16th century, with three major elements of interest. First, it shows the existence of rather sophisticated managerial and accounting discourse in the Renaissance period, where modern forms of management through accounting can be highlighted inside the 'Venetian method'. Second, it allows for an understanding of the evolution of accounting discourse over time: in the particular time span under investigation (1580-1643) new concepts and notions emerged, coupled with new ways of talking about managing issues through emerging accounting concepts (the invention of the idea of work in progress; costing expertise and other calculative practices). Third, it shows how a modem form of economic discourse gradually established itself in the face of hostile social and moral norms. The event under investigation describes a process in which the formal meaning of the economic (Polanyi, 1977) took place, with its associated moral imperative of organising and economising, conflicting to a large extent with social order. Though the tenn efficiency never appears in the documents, its ethos and pathos arc there, fostered by accounting and discourse about managing.

Keywords: accounting history

JEL Classification: M10, M41, N80, N83

Suggested Citation

Zan, Luca, Accounting and Management Discourse in Protoindustrial Settings: The Venice Arsenal in the Turn of the XVI Century (2004). Accounting and Business Research, 2004, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1093237

Luca Zan (Contact Author)

University of Bologna - Department of Management ( email )

Via Capo di Lucca 34
Bologna, 40126
Italy

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