Accounting for the dissolution of a nation state: Scotland and the Treaty of Union

C. Spence

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

20 Citations (Scopus)


Building upon the insights of socio-historical accounting research this paper attempts to show accounting's centrality to major historical events. In this context, accounting is viewed as a technology which was employed in order to implement a particular political programme - the union of the Scottish and English parliaments in 1707. Accounting is presented as both a necessary and impossible technology in this context. Forging an economic compromise between Scottish and English Parliamentarians necessitated an economic calculation of the relative economic power of each country in the first instance, and some calculated reconciliation between the two in the second. However, such a calculation also proved to be impossible as competing political factions contested the figures, ostensibly on technical grounds, but substantively on an ideological basis. Furthermore, building upon the notion of impossibility, the paper shows that political programmes can sometimes be subservient to the technologies that they rely upon for their implementation. Faced with congenitally failing accounting practices the political programmes associated with union had to be modified into something that was deliverable through the constraints of the extant accountability.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)377-392
Number of pages16
JournalAccounting, Organizations and Society
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2010
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Accounting
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Organizational Behavior and Human Resource Management
  • Information Systems and Management


Dive into the research topics of 'Accounting for the dissolution of a nation state: Scotland and the Treaty of Union'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this