Abstract: The History of Accounting Education and Business Development in South Africa, 1895-1980

Grietjie Verhoef


The South African accounting profession enjoys high international recognition for the strength of its auditing and reporting standards. The recognition is described as "comforting for South African businesses and financial institutions, including overseas investors" (<em>Business Day</em>,10/09/2010). This international recognition has a long historical development, since the formative years of the accounting profession in South Africa witnessed the contestation of control over practicing rights and training of accountants. This paper explores the development of the local professional accounting expertise through the registration requirements and examinations of trainee accountants as articled clerks. The interaction between professional closure strategies and education of the profession resulted in debates about the control of professional knowledge and education and the subsequent establishment of institutions to generate, circulate, and preserve the proprietary knowledge of the accounting profession in South Africa. The profession advocated such "monopolization" as important for the development of business and well-educated business leaders. The paper shows how the profession and the state carefully carved out the course of professional education to deliver its international standing.