Skip to main content

Research Repository

Advanced Search

Quaker accountability regimes: The case of the Richardson family networks, 1840 - 1914

McLean, Tom; McGovern, Tom; Slack, Richard; McLean, Malcolm

Quaker accountability regimes: The case of the Richardson family networks, 1840 - 1914 Thumbnail


Tom McLean

Tom McGovern

Malcolm McLean


Purpose – This paper aims to explore the development of the accountability ideals and practices of Quaker industrialists during the period 1840 – 1914. Design/methodology/approach – The research employs a case study approach and draws on the extensive archives of Quaker industrialists in the Richardson family networks, British Parliamentary Papers and the Religious Society of Friends together with relevant contemporary and current literature. Findings – Friends shed their position as Enemies of the State and obtained status and accountabilities undifferentiated from those of non-Quakers. The reciprocal influences of an increasingly complex business environment and radical changes in religious beliefs and practices combined to shift accountabilities from the Quaker Meeting House to newly established legal accountability mechanisms. Static Quaker organization structures and accountability processes were ineffective in a rapidly changing world. Decision-making was susceptible to the domination of the large Richardson family networks in the Newcastle Meeting House. This research found no evidence of Quaker corporate social accountability through action in the Richardson family networks and it questions the validity of this concept. The motivations underlying Quakers’ personal philanthropy and social activism were multiple and complex, extending far beyond accountabilities driven by religious belief. Originality/value –This research has originality and value as a study of continuity and change in Quaker accountability regimes during a period that encompassed fundamental changes in Quakerism and its orthopraxy, and their business, social and political environments.


McLean, T., McGovern, T., Slack, R., & McLean, M. (2023). Quaker accountability regimes: The case of the Richardson family networks, 1840 - 1914. Accounting, Auditing and Accountability Journal, 36(3), 859-884.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Sep 1, 2022
Online Publication Date Sep 21, 2022
Publication Date Apr 4, 2023
Deposit Date Sep 1, 2022
Publicly Available Date Sep 1, 2022
Journal Accounting, Auditing & Accountability Journal
Print ISSN 0951-3574
Publisher Emerald
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 36
Issue 3
Pages 859-884
Public URL


Accepted Journal Article (399 Kb)

Publisher Licence URL

Copyright Statement
This author accepted manuscript is deposited under a Creative Commons Attribution Non-commercial 4.0 International (CC BY-NC) licence. This means that anyone may distribute, adapt, and build upon the work for non-commercial purposes, subject to full attribution. If you wish to use this manuscript for commercial purposes, please contact

You might also like

Downloadable Citations