NORDSCI Conference proceedings 2021, Book 2

Finance

ACCOUNTING IN THE XVI CENTURY FROM THE VIEWPOINT OF ETHICS AND SUSTANABILITY: AN ESTONIAN CASE STUDY

Dr. Lea Roostalu

ABSTRACT

This case study is based on two accounting books that belonged to merchant Matteus Spielmann, which are preserved in the Tallinn City Archives and date from 1568-1570. Ever since Luca Pacioli’s famous 1494 textbook on accounting (the so-called Summa de arithmetica, geometry, proportioni et proportionalita), ethics has served as one of the foundations of accounting [1]. Business ethics and sustainability are related, in some ways characterizing corporate social responsibility. For example, Garriga and Melé claim that the theory of sustainable development belongs to the ethical theories of corporate social responsibility, concentrating on ethical values and responsibility [2].
The aim of this paper was to determine how Spielmann’s accounting books reflect ethics and sustainability. In order to assess sustainability, Talcott Parsons’s paradigm about the continuity of social systems was applied. According to Parsons [3], a harmony or balance must exist between the main functions of social systems: adaptation to the environment (A), goals attainment (G), social integration (I), and latent pattern maintenance or latency of values (L). In her doctoral thesis, Roostalu proved that Parsons’s AGIL paradigm describes a general system of sustainability and it is applicable when preparing four-dimensional sustainability models [4]. In this paper, a four-dimensional content model was also prepared, and qualitative content analysis was used.
The results of the case study show that Spielmann’s accounting books are quite transparent and include several sustainability indicators. Moreover, it appears that the dimensions of the sustainability model are in harmony with each other, which indicates strong sustainability orientation in these accounting books dating from the Middle Ages.

KEYWORDS

accounting, AGIL paradigm, corporate social responsibility, Matheus Spielmann, sustainability model

REFERENCE

NORDSCI Conference proceedings 2021, Book 2, Conference Proceedings, ISSN 2603-4107, ISBN 978-619-7495-14-0, ACCOUNTING IN THE XVI CENTURY FROM THE VIEWPOINT OF ETHICS AND SUSTANABILITY: AN ESTONIAN CASE STUDY, 195-202 pp, DOI paper 10.32008/NORDSCI2021/B2/V4/17