Munich Personal RePEc Archive

Adoption and diffusion of double entry book-keeping in Mexico and Spain: A related but under-investigated development

Batiz-Lazo, Bernardo and Hernandez-Borreguero, Julian and Maixe-Altes, J. Carles and NuÑez-Torrado, Miriam (2009): Adoption and diffusion of double entry book-keeping in Mexico and Spain: A related but under-investigated development.

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Abstract

There is a consensus within Mexican accounting historiography regarding widespread use of double entry bookkeeping by the end of the 19th Century in the realm of both private and public enterprise. However, there is conflicting and even contradictory claims as to when exactly this technique arrived to the viceroyalty of New Spain (present day Mexico) as well as its diffusion during the colonial era. In this article we address this conflict while putting forward the idea that the history of ‘modern’ accounting practice in Latin America should be framed by developments in its former colonial power. We offer the analysis of primary and secondary source material to support the view that there was continuity in the use of double entry in Spain and therefore, the so called ‘period of silence and apparent oblivion’ seems limited to the production of indigenous accounting thought (as expressed in the production of bibliographic material such as manuals and textbooks). We conclude that the history of Latin America accounting should be wary of extrapolating everyday practice by interpreting bibliographic material and proceed by examining surviving company documents as well as informal educational practices amongst organisations based in the metropolis and its then colonies.

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