Capitalizing the Measure of Our Ignorance: A Pragmatist Genealogy of RandD
MetadataShow full item record
As the dust of the Second World War began to settle, that which began life in the U.S. as an experimental space in early twentieth century firms became a knowable object of intervention for economics and accountancy alike. Jumpstarted by the war, research and development, or RandD, was pulled into the experimental forays of a new generation of experts, including macroeconomic growth theorists. By explaining growth outputs in terms of RandD inputs, postwar macroeconomists failed to learn the lesson that was so hard won by accountants, namely: that it is the very uncertainty of outcomes which makes experimental inquiry so valuable to society and yet so untenable as capital.
General Audience Abstract
Over the course of the twentieth century, American "research and development" evolved from an experimental space within a handful of early twentieth century firms, into "RandD"—a knowable object of intervention for experts and regulators alike. Tracing this shift through the lens of accounting history, this dissertation draws out the debates involving RandD accounting which ultimately settled on the treatment of RandD as an ordinary and necessary business expense. Federal laws and regulations, however, continue to treat RandD as if it were a capital investment like any other. The implications of treating RandD as capital are discussed.
- Doctoral Dissertations