Richard Mattessich: In Memoriam

Richard Mattessich

Richard Mattessich: In Memoriam

Mech Eng (Vienna IV), DKF, Dr. rer pol (Vienna XIX),
Professor Emeritus, Accounting and Information Systems Division

Richard (Ricco) Mattessich, Professor Emeritus (Accounting), Accounting and Information Systems Division at UBC Sauder passed away on Sunday, September 30, 2019. He recently celebrated his 97th birthday.

Born in Trieste, Italy, Richard Mattessich obtained his degree in Mechanical Engineering in 1940 at the Engineering College, Vienna, and his MBA in 1944 at the Vienna School of Economics and Business Administration, where in 1945 he also obtained his Dr. rer. pol. in Economics. After graduation he started as a research associate at the Austrian Institute of Economic Research in Vienna. In 1947, he moved to the Rosenberg Institute in St. Gallen, where he was appointed Instructor of Commerce. In 1952, he moved to Canada and was Department Head of Commerce from 1953 to 1959 at Mount Allison University. From 1959 to 1967 he was Associate Professor of Accounting at the University of California, Berkeley, and from 1967 to 1987 Professor of Accounting at UBC Sauder and in 1988 emeritus professor. 

Richard Mattessich was awarded honorary doctoral degrees from the University of Madrid (Complutense) in 1998, the University of Malaga in Spain in 2006; the University of Montesquieu in France in 2006; and the University of Graz in Austria in 2007. 

Over a career extending back to the early 1940s, Richard Mattessich authored over 25 books and more than 180 papers published in books, anthologies and journals (close to 100 of these published post 1988 retirement). He is best known for introducing the concept of electronic spreadsheets into the field of business accounting in 1961, as well as pioneering analytical and philosophical methods in accounting. He was a trained accounting historian, as well as a theoretician and philosopher of accounting. He regarded historical research as no less a search for truth than science. Among the many prestigious awards he received, was the 2019 Hourglass Award by the American Accounting Association’s Academy of Accounting Historians. The Hourglass Award is presented annually to an individual who has made a demonstrable and significant contribution to knowledge through research and publication in accounting history. It is the most significant research award offered by the Academy, and the second time Mattessich was chosen to receive the award, the first time being in 2003.

Ricco left an incredible impression on many of us here at UBC Sauder. He was a dedicated scholar who loved the School. Even after retirement, he could be found in the office every day working on his research. Ricco will be deeply missed by all who knew him. 


Special Honours (selected):

2007 Dr. hon. causa, University of Graz (Austria);
2006 Dr. hon. causa, University of Montesquieu (Bordeaux);
2006 Dr. hon. causa, University of Malaga (Spain);
2004-Present (and 1978-88) Member of the Board of Nominations of the Accounting Hall of Fame;
2003 Hourglass Award of the Academy of Accounting Historians;
1998 Doctor honoris causa (Madrid/Complutense);
1997 Honorary Professor, Centro Universitario Francesco de Vitoria, Madrid;
1991 Haim Falk Award for Distinguished Contribution to Accounting Thought (CAAA);
1984-Present Corresponding Member to the Austrian Academy of Sciences;
1972 Award for Notable Contribution to Accounting Literature (AICPA/AAA)


Curriculum Vitae
(over 25 books; and over 180 papers published in books, anthologies and learned journals - for details see Curriculum Vitae)

Pioneered (between 1961 and 1964) the computerized Spreadsheet - see p.3 "Early Implementations" of <> and related websites.

Major Books (selected) 

Reality in Accounting - Ontological Explorations in the Economic and Social Sciences (published in August 2013, with © 2014)

Two-hundred Years of Accounting Research: An International Survey of Personalities, Ideas, and Publications from about 1800 to 2000 (a comprehensive book, partly based on some of my previous historical papers, occasionally in co-authorship covering accounting research in some 20 countries in detail and over a dozen further countries in lesser details.  London: Routledge, 2008; paperback and Kindle editions: 2011)

The Beginnings of Accounting - Accounting Practice in the Middle East (from 8000 b.c. to 2000 b.c) and Accounting Thought in India (ca. 300 b.c and the Middle Ages) in 2000.

Foundational Research in Accounting - Professional Memoirs and Beyond (1995, with serial transation in Japanese - second revised edition by De Computis on the internet in 2006, and third expanded edition available from the author)

Critique of Accounting - Examination of the Foundations and Normative Structure of an Applied Discipline (1995)

Editor of: Accounting Research in the 1980's and Its Future Relevance (1984, 1989, and 1992 - with the supplementary volume: Modern Accounting Research: History, Survey, and Guide, 1991; French translation in 1993)

Instrumental Reasoning and Systems Methodology - An Epistemology of the Applied and Social Sciences (1978; Paperback edition, 1980; also in the University Microfilms International Books on Demand Series, 1979)

Simulation of the Firm through a Budget Computer Program (1964, reprinted in 1979; Books on Demand Series.  This book anticipated, by almost twenty years, major elements of such bestselling microcomputer programmes as VISI-CALC, SUPER-CALC, LOTUS 1-2-3, etc.)

Accounting and Analytical Methods (1964, reprinted in 1977 in "Outstanding Financial Reprints", Houston; and at "Series of Accounting Classics", University Microfilms International, of Books on Demand; German translation in 1970; Japanese translation in 1972-75; Spanish translation in 2002)

(for a current list see: WorldCat of your Library Internet

Tenure Professorships 

1967-1988 University of British Columbia
1976-1978 University of Technology, Vienna (Chair of Industr. Admstr., Austria)
1966-1967 Ruhr University Bochum (Chair of Economics, Germany)
1959-1967 University of California, Berkeley
1953-1959 Mount Allison University (Chairman of Commerce, Canada)

Visiting Professorships 

2004 Visiting Professor at the University of Málaga, Spain
1992 University of Tokyo
1992 City University of Hong Kong, and Chuo
1971 and 1973 Austrian Academy of Management, Graz
1970 University of Canterbury, New Zealand
1965/66 University of St. Gallen, Switzerland
1965 Free University Berlin

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