Monopolistic professional closure, family credentials and examination procedures in the Venetian College of Accountants (16th-17th century)

Massimo Sargiacomo*, Christian Corsi, Luciano D'Amico, Tiziana Di Cimbrini, Alan Sangster

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)
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The paper investigates the closure mechanisms and strategies of exclusion concerning the establishment and subsequent functioning of the Collegio dei Rasonati, the professional body of accountants that was established in Venice in 1581 and operated until the end of the 18th century.

The research design offers a critical longitudinal explanation of the emergence of the Collegio dei Rasonati as a professional body in the context of Venetian society by relying on the social closure theory elaborated by Collins (1975); Parkin (1979) and Murphy (1988).

The Collegio dei Rasonati was established to overcome the prerogatives of a social class in accessing the accounting profession. However, the pre-existing professional elites enacted a set of social closure strategies able to transform this professional body into a stronghold of their privileges.

Research limitations/implications
As virtually all of the evidence concerning the admission examinations has been lost over time, the investigation is restricted to the study of the few examples that have survived. The main implication of the study concerns the understanding of some dynamics leading to neutralize attempts to replace class privileges with a meritocratic system.

The research investigates the structure of the rules of social closure revealing the possibility of an antagonistic relationship between different co-existing forms of exclusion within the same structure. Moreover, it highlights that a form of exclusion can be made of different hierarchical levels.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)965-989
Number of pages25
JournalAccounting, Auditing & Accountability Journal
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 24 Apr 2020


  • accounting profession
  • history
  • power
  • social closure
  • Italy
  • Accounting profession
  • History
  • Power
  • Social closure


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