The Accounting Historians Journal Vol. 17, No. 2 December 1990
H. Peter Holzer
UNIVERSITY OF ILLINOIS AT URBANA-CHAMPAIGN
and Wade Rogers PRICE WATERHOUSE, CHICAGO
THE ORIGINS AND DEVELOPMENTS OF FRENCH COSTING SYSTEMS (AS REFLECTED IN PUBLISHED LITERATURE)
Abstract: This paper reviews the evolution of French cost accounting from the mid-1500's to the present. As might be expected, the develop-ment of costing techniques accelerated in the late nineteenth century Modern French cost accounting probably began with Maurice Lucas' book, Le Prix de Revient, and the publications of a special government commission in 1928. The commission recommended detailed costing procedures which are relevant today and are reflected in the require-ments of the latest French uniform chart of accounts. The chart pro-vides for the incorporation of imputed costs through a system of contra accounts. Today's cost and management accounting concepts and practices in France seem quite comparable to those in other in-dustrialized countries.
The theoretical evolution of most bodies of knowledge knows no national or cultural boundaries. Our expertise in life sciences, for example, has grown based on the aggregate contributions of worldwide research and study. The theories and practices behind the science of accounting, however, have grown up within the cultural contexts, relating to the particular cultural group which they are serving. Regardless of the efforts toward worldwide har-monization of accounting standards and practices which are cur-rently underway, there remains a great diversity in underlying theory.
One of the more important players in worldwide accounting development has been France. From the Middle Ages onwards, the French have made great contributions to the field, often parallel to, often divergent from the Anglo-American traditions or those of its continental neighbors. Accordingly, the development of French accounting theory is worth investigation.
This paper will consider the French contribution to cost ac-