Italian Theories About Accounting Measurements From the Twenties to the Sixties: Looking for Underlying Tendencies

Enrico Gonnella


The main subject of this paper is the theory of accounting valuations as observed from a historical perspective. In particular, this research concerns the most significant theoretical concepts developed through the Italian doctrine between the 1920s and the 1960s. This period was a historical phase of great cultural ferment, characterised by the progressive deepening of the subject of accounting valuations by Italian scholars.

Most of the attention has been focused on those scholars who, by developing theses among the most innovative and original, made significant contributions to the advancement of Italian accounting: Gino Zappa, Vittorio Alfieri, Francesco De Gobbis, Pietro Onida, Lorenzo De Minico, Alberto Ceccherelli, and Egidio Giannessi. These scholars, aware that the valuative problem could not be addressed with simple valuation rules, were interested in finding general principles that could be useful models of behaviour for the accounting practise. These principles made it possible to understand that valuation, being a process that transcends the simple mechanistic application of predefined rules, requires the formulation of a judgment based on the observation of the firm’s specific characteristics and of those of the external environment in which it operates.

The analysis allowed the main trends in the examined evolutionary process to be identified, including the progressive relativisation as well as the increasing subjectivity of values, the penchant towards a holistic approach to the problem of accounting valuations, and last, but at the same time first from a doctrinal point of view, the tendency toward a scientification of the discipline of financial accounting measurements.

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International Journal of Accounting and Financial Reporting  ISSN 2162-3082

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