Taylor, James (2011) Numbers, Character and Trust in Early Victorian Britain:The Independent West Middlesex Fire and Life Assurance Company Fraud. In: Statistics and the Public Sphere. Routledge Studies in Modern British History . Routledge, pp. 185-202. ISBN 978-0-415-87894-4Full text not available from this repository.
The development of the joint-stock company in the nineteenth century challenged the foundations on which business had hitherto been based. Given the scale of company operations, it was unlikely that investors would have direct contact with boards of directors. Companies therefore developed mechanisms to foster trust in the new impersonal economy. This chapter identifies a tension between new forms of trust formation (usually involving ‘objective’ statistics enshrined in balance sheets and financial reports), and old ones (faith in the character of the gentlemen behind a business). Focusing on a case study of a major fraud, this chapter argues that investors tended to rely on the perceived character of the directors. In exposing the unreliability of these traditional processes of trust formation, the scandal prompted the state to attempt to improve access to objective data on companies, and this chapter ends by examining the reasons for the failure of these reforms.
|Item Type:||Contribution in Book/Report/Proceedings|
|Subjects:||D History General and Old World > DA Great Britain|
|Departments:||Faculty of Arts & Social Sciences > History|
|Deposited On:||22 Nov 2011 16:38|
|Last Modified:||15 Jan 2016 00:08|
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