Political ideology and accounting regulation in China
, Jason Zezhong Xiao
, Aixiang Pan
Cardiﬀ Business School, Cardiﬀ University, Cardiﬀ CF10 3EU, Wales, UK
School of Accounting, Beijing Technology and Business University, 33 Fucheng Road, Beijing, China
This paper analyzes the relationship between political ideology and accounting change covering the transition from
Maoism to Dengism in China. Under Mao, the ideological principles of class struggle primacy, central planning, and
public ownership were mobilized to construct a class view of accounting according to which Western accounting con-
cepts were prohibited because they were considered a tool of capitalist exploitation. Under Deng, the new ideological
principles of economic development primacy, marketization, and mixed-ownership paved the way for a diﬀerent view of
accounting to emerge. Accounting was re-presented as a science and a neutral technology with no national boundaries,
and the adoption of what were deemed Western accounting concepts, such as conservatism, was encouraged. In both
eras, accounting was construed as a malleable object shaped by the force of the dominant political discourse. We show
how in each era political ideology created a context that was rendered more or less compatible with the adoption of
particular accounting concepts.
Ó 2006 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
Researchers have increasingly become interested
in examining the relationship between ideology and
accounting, with the latter being recognized not
just as a technical apparatus but also as a practice
that shapes and is shaped by society (Burchell,
Clubb, Hopwood, Hughes, & Nahapiet, 1980).
Stressing the importance of understanding the link
between ideology and accounting policy choice,
Mason (1980, p. 30) argues that: ‘‘At the highest
level the social norms which guide the selection
process are ideological... This raises the rather
0361-3682/$ - see front matter Ó 2006 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
An earlier draft of this paper was presented at the
Interdisciplinary Perspectives on Accounting (IPA) Conference,
Madrid, July 2003. We acknowledge ﬁnancial support from a
Cardiﬀ Business School Seedcorn grant and the Chinese
Accounting, Finance and Business Research Unit at Cardiﬀ
Business School. We thank the interviewees for their cooper-
ation and Guowei Gong, Luan Lee, Ping Meng, Guliang Tang,
Bin Wang, Linda Liang Sun, Huacheng Wang, Zhihua Xie,
Youhong Yang, Arthur Zhang, and Yikuan Zhang for their
help in arranging the interviews. We also acknowledge the
helpful comments made by the participants at the IPA, Keith
Robson, and the two anonymous reviewers.
E-mail addresses: ezzamel@cardiﬀ.ac.uk (M. Ezzamel),
xiao@cardiﬀ.ac.uk (J.Z. Xiao), email@example.com (A. Pan).
Accounting, Organizations and Society 32 (2007) 669–700