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Influence of German Betriebswirtschaftslehre on Dutch Bedrijfseconomie with particular reference to accounting

By Kees Camfferman

Abstract

In the international accounting literature, both the Netherlands and Germany are known for the influence exerted on accounting by their respective business economics traditions. Given the geographical and linguistic proximity of the two countries, it is natural to assume a degree of cross-border influence. This paper assesses the historical evidence for German influence on the development of Dutch business economics from the late 19th century until the Second World War. It is argued that such influence was strongest around 1900 and that its clearest effect was institutional. Largely on the basis of the German example, business economics was recognized as an academic discipline in the 1910s. In terms of content, Dutch business economics reflected the German debate between proponents of a pragmatic, multidisciplinary approach and advocates of a more narrowly defined discipline in which business economics was seen as a part of economics. The fact that leading Dutch business economists, most notably Limperg, opted for the second approach at a relatively early stage gave Dutch business economics a distinctive character.

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