Business History and Regulation 2004

University of Southampton 
March 2004

CARR, in association with the University of Southampton's Centre for Research in Accounting, Accountability and Governance, held a workshop on 'Business History and Regulation' on 3 March 2004. This third and last of the business history interdisciplinary workshops was led by business historian Terry Gourvish; it brought together economists, political scientists, management scientists, accountants and historians to debate regulatory processes.

Peter Casson, University of Southampton, opened the workshop with a paper on 'A Study of Institutional Change: the Finance Act 1989 and Employee Share Ownership Plans'. Examining experience in both the US and UK, Casson showed how the incentives offered by the institutional structure can lead to outcomes other than those intended by the legislators. Gerald Burke (University of Oregon), spoke on Organising Economic Diversity: Antitrust, Associations and Accounting in the United States, 1906-25. Burke was concerned with the efforts of Louis Brandeis and others to encourage 'associational antitrust' and improved methods of cost accounting in the United States in the name of 'regulated competition'. He offered some interesting data to support his contention that these interventions had a positive impact in terms of higher productivity.

Among several provocative issues was the question: does capitalism function more responsibly with high or low information flows? Tony Arnold (University of Exeter) and Sean McCartney (University of Essex) examined 'Regulation and Strategic Policy Formulation in the British Railway Industry, 1870-14'. In an innovative contribution that provided new data on railway profits and concentration levels, they examined the impact of the regulation of Britain's private railway companies before the First World War. Key themes were the fluctuations of public policy towards mergers, and the response of the private sector towards these fluctuations.

Finally, Forrest Capie (City University) offered a provocative interpretation of financial regulation in Britain over the last three centuries. Extensive regulation in the 18th century gave way, first to deregulation in the 19th century, and then to self-regulation in the 20th. Capie pointed out that the age of 'neo-liberalism' has seen extensive additions to the regulatory framework. He highlighted the role of financial crises in encouraging change.

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Please follow the links for the programme and papers| for this event.