The Accounting Historians Journal Vol. 15, No. 1 Spring 1988
MAUREEN H. BERRY, EDITOR University of Illinois
From Conflict to Consensus: The American Institute of Accoun-tants and the Professionalization of Public Accountancy, 1886-1940 (The John Hopkins University, 1985) by Paul Joseph Miranti, Jr.
"From Conflict to Consensus" is an ambitious work, exa-mining the shaping of the American public accounting profes-sion over the course of half a century through the prisms of four different schools of historical analysis. It addresses two broad research questions: what the experience of the American Institute of Accountants (AIA), and its predecessor organization the American Association of Public Accountants (AAPA), can disclose about the nature of the new American society which surfaced in the last quarter of the nineteenth century; and how an organizational structure and program for the public ac-counting profession was successfully developed by the AIA leadership.
The thesis is organized into four major parts in chronologi-cal progression, each with its own synthesizing summary. The first, "Seed Time for a Profession, 1886-1906", describes the fledgling profession's long gestation and infancy, covering the competition in New York for professional power, and the even-tual merger of the American Association of Professional Ac-countants (AAPA) and the Federation of State Societies of Public Accountants in the United States of America. Part II, "The Greening of the New Profession, 1906-1916", covers events in the decade of adolescence: how professional roles were defined, authority built up, and crisis over ruling influ-ence in the profession confronted yet again. The third part, "The False Blossom, 1916-1929", takes up the challenges and issues the accounting community had to deal with in inter-preting moral dimensions and setting competency demarca-tions. "The Mature Harvest, 1929-1940" brings us to the profes-sion's coming of age with the creation of the AIA, the catalytic impact of the Securities Acts of 1933 and 1934 on professional unification, and the budding of consensus which ensued.
In his first chapter, Miranti identified the four different