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The development of Chinese accounting and bookkeeping before 1850: insights from the Tŏng Tài Shēng business account books (1798-1850)

Yuan, Weipeng, Macve, Richard and Ma, Debin (2015) The development of Chinese accounting and bookkeeping before 1850: insights from the Tŏng Tài Shēng business account books (1798-1850). Economic History working paper series (220/2015). The London School of Economics and Political Science, London, UK.

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Abstract

Our paper reports our exploration into the original account books contained in the archive of Tŏng Tài Shēng (‘TTS’), a substantial ‘grocery / merchant-banking’ business in northern China and its surviving books span a period from the late 18th century to the middle of the 19th century. TTS archive is possibly most completely and fully integrated surviving merchant archive before China’s forced opening in the mid-19th century. We set out the various kinds of accounts that were kept and what can be reconstructed of the interrelationships between daily running records and the various ‘ledger’ accounts for customers and suppliers and of the process by which financial statements were produced. We give illustrations of important accounts and also explain the specialist symbols and numerals used for accounting purposes. Given the claims that have repeatedly been made for the importance of double-entry bookkeeping (DEB) for capitalism’s development in the West, our findings shed critical light on the nature of indigenous Chinese bookkeeping and business organization and on the larger questions about Chinese commercial culture and the path of development.

Item Type: Monograph (Working Paper)
Official URL: http://www.lse.ac.uk/economicHistory/home.aspx
Additional Information: © 2015 The Authors
Divisions: LSE
Subjects: D History General and Old World > DS Asia
H Social Sciences > HF Commerce
JEL classification: M - Business Administration and Business Economics; Marketing; Accounting > M4 - Accounting and Auditing
N - Economic History > N8 - Micro-Business History
Date Deposited: 24 Nov 2015 16:15
Last Modified: 23 Aug 2019 23:27
URI: http://eprints.lse.ac.uk/id/eprint/64494

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