Accounting Controls at the Kelheim Brewery in the Seventeenth Century–Single Entry Accounting as Fit for Purpose

Winner of the James Soltow Award for Best Paper in Essays 2021


  • Martin Quinn Queen’s Management School, Queen’s University, Belfast
  • Gerhard Kristandl University of Greenwich, London


Prior to the arguably superior double-entry system of accounting, single-entry accounting was used widely. Extant literature on single-entry accounting suggests it remained in use well after the advent of double-entry, with ease of use cited as a key reason. However, there may be other reasons which have not been revealed in the literature. This study explores how single-entry accounting was utilized at the Kelheim brewery in Bavaria, Germany during the seventeenth century. It finds an organizational field in which single-entry accounting was fit for purpose. Single-entry accounting provided sufficient information and accountability, implying the more sophisticated double-entry accounting system was not used although it was known in Germany at this time.