Shame and authority : tracing the cultural antecedents of internal protocols in China

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Authors
Wang, Dr Jenny
Hooper, Keith
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2016-07
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Conference Contribution - Oral Presentation
Ngā Upoko Tukutuku (Māori subject headings)
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China
Foucault, Michel (1926-1984)
internal control
discipline
shame
accounting
ANZSRC Field of Research Code (2020)
Citation
Wang, J., & Hooper, K. (2016, July). Shame and authority: tracing the cultural antecedents of internal protocols in China. Paper presented at 8th Asia-Pacific Interdisciplinary Research in Accounting (APIRA), Melbourne, Australia.
Abstract
PURPOSE: To show how internal controls may be undermined and compromised by unquestioning obedience and accommodation of staff with management. DESIGN/METHODOLOGY/APPROACH: The paper makes use of an ethnographic approach based on participant observation. The researcher worked for several years as a trainee manager for a large hotel chain in China. During that time as part of training she kept a re cord of her experiences in various roles. FINDINGS: Obedience to authority is a fundamental Confucian ideal that has left its legacy on internal control systems within East Asia. Under the Confucian tradition, superiors are not to be questioned, their accusations establish guilt and the resultant punishment is typically a public ritual that can be mitigated only by confession. Internal control systems in East Asian organisations are shown to carry latent vestiges of these traditions, as illustrated with examples drawn from a micro analysis of a hotel organization. ORIGINALITY/VALUE Internal control is conventionally depicted as comprising technical practices designed to prevent or detect accounting errors and/or the loss of assets. However, high profile corporate collapses in recent years have fostered a recognition that internal control encompasses an organisation’s broader cultural milieu. Where unquestioning compliance and obedience predominate, internal control may be ineffective – regardless of the technical routines in place. The paper shows from a micro perspective how internal controls may be compromised. Theoretical guidance is provided by Foucault’s concept of subjugated knowledge: local memories regarded as unqualified or actively disqualified within organisational hierarchies.
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