Accounting in markets, hierarchies and networks: the role of accounting in the transnational governance of postal transactions

Alan J. Richardson, Eksa Kilfoyle

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)


We examine the changing role of accounting in the development of the international postal system between 1840 and the emergence of the Universal Postal Union (UPU) in 1875. We use the distinction between mundane and opportunistic transaction costs to explain why accounting disappeared as a coordinating mechanism as postal transactions migrated from spot market exchanges, through bilateral contracts (treaties) between nations, into a network of domestic post offices coordinated by the UPU. Our analysis refines the application of transaction cost economics to the understanding of the role of management accounting in different governance mechanisms.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)939-956
Number of pages18
JournalAccounting, Organizations and Society
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - 1 Nov 2009
Externally publishedYes

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