In 1888, the Quincy Mining Company changed its payroll accounting practices. Although efficiency was almost certainly a contributing factor, the nature and timing of this accounting innovation cannot be fully explained by efficiency alone. Instead, this paper attributes the new procedures to the transformation of American labor that characterized the last part of the 19th century. It is argued that the accounting changes reflect a realignment of the organizational relationship between management and labor. Through a contextual examination of a 19th century accounting innovation, this paper provides insights to the social and cultural influences upon accounting processes.

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