Professor wins award for digging into HBC’s accounting history

Gary Spraakman
Gary Spraakman

Professor Gary Spraakman, School of Administrative Studies, dug deep into the over-300-year accounting history of the Hudson’s Bay Company (HBC) and won the Barbara D. Merino Award for Excellence in Accounting History Publication.

The award was granted to Spraakman from the Academy of Accounting Historians, at the 2016 annual meeting of the American Accounting Association, in honour of his book Management Accounting at the Hudson’s Bay Company: From Quill Pen to Digitization. The book covers 335 years at HBC, which kept excellent and relevant accounting records over the centuries.

“There are two related reasons that the Hudson’s Bay Company is remarkable in the field of management accounting,” said Spraakman. “First, it is the oldest surviving commercial company in the world; second, it has the most comprehensive and exhaustive archive of any existing or deceased company in the world.”

He warns that “a serious lesson from the study of management accounting at the Hudson’s Bay Company is that management accounting practices can be difficult to change because of institutionalization, and without insightful managers, existing practices are allowed to survive beyond their usefulness.”

He says that “only by examining the history of management accounting can we improve its service to companies and managers.”