In traditional Anglo-Saxon accounting historiography the birth of sophisticated management accounting practices was dated at the end of the 19th century [Jonhson and Kaplan, 1987]. However, some more recent investigations have questioned this idea and demonstrate the existence of sophisticated management accounting and control techniques before the industrial revolution in differing contexts such as the United Kingdom, the United States and Spain. Fleischman and Parker [1991] have demonstrated that these practices were present in a significant number of British companies. However, evidence for Spain is based on isolated case studies. While case studies are essential to explain how these techniques were used, there has been no research to assess their frequency in Spain before the industrial revolution. By examining files concerning 13 large and medium-sized 18th century Spanish companies, this paper corroborates Fleischman and Parker's [1991] thesis. It reveals that knowledge of sophisticated cost accounting methods was fairly widespread in Spain during the 18th century. Interestingly, however, the knowledge and use of these techniques were not connected to economic success and to the industrial revolution, as was the case in the United Kingdom.

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