The paper aims to contribute to our understanding of the emergence of accounting as a control instrument of complex proto-industrial production activities through its perceived capacity of mirroring this process. The paper starts off from an archive document, the 1586 deliberation by the Venetian Senate, which imposes on the Arsenal a stock taking to be made every three years, and ad hoc galley production accounts to be kept in double entry, where the passages of merchandise and works-inprocess between units were recorded by physical quantity and value. In this deliberation the Venetian Senate was clearly posing explicitly the problem of costing and the efficient use of resources within the Arsenal. Until then, the Senate was controlling this organisation only by limiting the funds allocated to activities (wages, oars, “stuffs”) without entering into the substance of the operations. Two interrelated investigations are carried out. First, a content analysis of the 1586 document is made. Second, the question of its “impact” on the Arsenal’s actual accounting practices is addressed. In a 1633 Report by Alvise Molin, a magistrate of the Republic, some elements of the 1586 deliberation seem to surface, insofar as a quite sophisticated calculation of the production costs of galleys is provided. In this sense it might well be that the notion of cost emerged as a sort of “accidental by-product” of the Senate effort aimed to introduce tighter forms of control on the Arsenal.

Controlling Expenditure, or the Slow Emergence of Costing at the Venice Arsenal, 1586-1633

ZAMBON, Stefano;
2007

Abstract

The paper aims to contribute to our understanding of the emergence of accounting as a control instrument of complex proto-industrial production activities through its perceived capacity of mirroring this process. The paper starts off from an archive document, the 1586 deliberation by the Venetian Senate, which imposes on the Arsenal a stock taking to be made every three years, and ad hoc galley production accounts to be kept in double entry, where the passages of merchandise and works-inprocess between units were recorded by physical quantity and value. In this deliberation the Venetian Senate was clearly posing explicitly the problem of costing and the efficient use of resources within the Arsenal. Until then, the Senate was controlling this organisation only by limiting the funds allocated to activities (wages, oars, “stuffs”) without entering into the substance of the operations. Two interrelated investigations are carried out. First, a content analysis of the 1586 document is made. Second, the question of its “impact” on the Arsenal’s actual accounting practices is addressed. In a 1633 Report by Alvise Molin, a magistrate of the Republic, some elements of the 1586 deliberation seem to surface, insofar as a quite sophisticated calculation of the production costs of galleys is provided. In this sense it might well be that the notion of cost emerged as a sort of “accidental by-product” of the Senate effort aimed to introduce tighter forms of control on the Arsenal.
2007
Zambon, Stefano; Zan, L.
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: https://hdl.handle.net/11392/1211173
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