Accounting at the London School of Economics: Opportunity lost?

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

810 Downloads (Pure)


Given the aims of the founders of the London School of Economics, it is not surprising that accounting should have been taught at the School from soon after its establishment. An early focus on teaching practical accounting, with professional practitioners as teachers, was gradually supplanted by approaches informed by the economics of decision-making in conditions of scarce resources. By the 1930s, the Department of Business Administration provided an intellectual basis for thinking about financial reporting and costing that challenged taken-for-granted practices. After World War II, the “LSE Triumvirate” of William Baxter, Harold Edey and David Solomons took forward ideas of opportunity cost and value to the owner as core theoretical concepts, while developing undergraduate and later postgraduate programmes that provided rigorous education for future accountants, administrators, business people and academics. However, the focus on education, and the weak infrastructure for accounting research in the UK had the unintended consequence that, by the early 1970s, the Department of Accounting did not have the opportunity of responding to changes in research focus in North America, which were influenced by developments in financial economics.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)185-205
JournalAccounting History
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - May 2011


  • Accounting ideas
  • Value to the owner
  • Opportunity costs
  • accounting education
  • economics of accounting

Cite this