Séminaire COURNOT – Guillaume Daudin (Paris Dauphine University)
De 14:00 à 15:30
Détails de l'événement :
Title: The rationality of early modern merchant bookkeeping: a quantitative approach
Co-authors: Pierre Gervais
Abstract: We offer a way to test to what extent double-entry book-keeping is the vector of rationalization of merchant activity that was described by Weber and Sombart, and explore alternative possible motivations. We move the focus away from the structure and theory of accounts into the daily practice of the agents themselves. We use the new, unique database of eighteenth-century merchant accounts developed in France by the MARPROF project. 28 months worth of accounts digitized from three different account books, two from France and one from North America, dating back to the 1750s, 1770s and 1780s yielded no less than 7,555 postings. We show that a discernible rationality can be identified in the accounting rhythms of these Early Modern merchants, especially in terms of network management and profit tracking, but that both these goals were achieved in complex and sometimes surprising ways.
JEL classification: M41, N83, N81
Keywords: Accounting, History, 18th century, France, United States, Capitalism, Sombart thesis