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Publication Date

1990

Abstract

The national armory at Springfield was the largest prototype of the modern factory establishment and its accounting controls were described by Alfred Chandler [1977] as the most sophisticated in use before the early 1840s. In spite of that, armory management did not integrate piece-rate accounting and a clock-regulated workday to produce prespecified norms of output. Hoskin & Macve [1988] have recently suggested that the armory's accounting controls were unable to attain disciplinary power over labor and increase labor productivity until a West Point trained managerial component had been established at the armory after 1840. They called for a reexamination of the historical record from a disciplinary rather than economic perspective to validate this doctrine. The paper presents the findings of this reexamination and indicates that West Point management training was a relatively minor determinant in the evolving nature of accounting. Several economic and social factors are found to better explain why integration did not occur any sooner than it did at the Springfield armory.

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