Accounting as a legitimising device in voluntary price agreements: The Dundee jute industry, 1945-1960

Swapnesh Masrani*, Peter McKiernan

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Citations (Scopus)


Using archival and interview data, this paper uses institutional theory (INT) to analyze the role that accounting played in the operation of voluntary price agreements in the Dundee jute industry (DJI) during the sector's decline from 1945 to 1960. At its peak in the late 19th century, the industry employed almost 50% of the Dundee labour force and its output was critical to the UK's war effort. Hence, once decline set in, serious efforts were made to protect it from foreign competition. The DJI was highly fragmented, with some firms happy to comply and others in a state of defiance. The role of accounting helped to provide legitimacy and attract compliance, while the isomorphic forces (normative, coercive and mimicry) played key roles individually and together in binding together a set of voluntary price agreements. Key influencers in the DJI exerted agency to reinforce these efforts. These agreements proved more successful than other 'shelter' strategy schemes in other UK sectors in decline, e.g., cotton, in buying time for firms to diversify.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)415-433
Number of pages19
JournalCritical Perspectives on Accounting
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2011


  • Accounting
  • Collective strategy
  • Dundee jute industry
  • Industrial decline
  • Institutional theory

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Accounting
  • Finance
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Information Systems and Management


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