In a recent report into new research directions in management accounting a geographically and philosophically diverse group of eight scholars argued for a convergence of different and complementary approaches to the subject. They concluded that, “[n]ew directions and advances in management accounting research depend on researchers actively seeking synergy among different research methods and disciplines” (Atkinson et al. 1997, p. 98). The authors argued specifically that management accounting research can benefit from integration with advances in economic, organisational, and social theory. In another recent assessment, Foster and Young (1996, p. 75) have called for “management accounting academics to gain broader and deeper institutional knowledge [and]…a longer term perspective”. In this essay we particularise these general calls by arguing that powerful synergies exist between the study of accounting and business history in Australasia. Historical evidence can be usefully employed to further our understanding of how management accounting systems (hereafter MAS) develop in our leading contemporary corporations.