The influence of culture and politics on accounting change in India from 1947 to 1998
The exploratory research in this thesis analyses the influence of culture and politics on accounting change since independence. A theoretical framework is proposed within which historical studies of the influence of culture and politics on accounting and accounting change may be undertaken. In this framework, the accounting system is viewed as part of the whole social system in the country of study, providing information for decision making and providing a tool for economic and social development. Culture affects all the social systems in the country, including the accounting system and the outcome of the process for accounting change is affected by political processes. Using the framework, accounting changes in India are broken down into three phases, a source phase, a diffusion phase and a reaction phase. In the source phase, change to the accounting system is set in motion, usually from outside the accounting system. The diffusion phase of any change looks at how change is dispersed and accommodated within the system and the reaction phase of any accounting change looks at how the accounting system is modified subsequent to the diffusion phase. The diffusion phase and the reaction phase encompass both intra-system activity, activity between the different components of the accounting system and trans-system activity, activity between the accounting system and its neighbouring systems and both types of activity determine the outcome of any change. The framework is used to analyse key changes to the accounting system in India from independence in 1947 through to 1998. The source of accounting change is usually seen to coine from outside the accounting system in India and relates mainly to the social and economic development of India. In both the diffusion and reaction phases, intra-system activity takes place between the main regulatory authorities within the accounting system which are identified to be government institutions and proCessional accounting institutes. Trans-system activity too takes place in both the diffusion and reaction phases and the main social systems influencing the accounting system are identified to be the economic system, the political system, the tax system, the financial system, the corporate system and the international system. Culture, both nation-specific cultural values such as hierarchy and collectivism and universal cultural values of high power distance, low individualism, low uncertainty avoidance and high masculinity, affect all social systems and all three phases of the change. Culture is seen to influence the accounting system and accounting change in India with strong Government involvement in accounting, the extensive use of statutory legislation to promulgate accounting change, accounting regulated by both statutory legislation and an accounting profession and accounting change initiated for social and economic reasons. In addition, the accounting values seen in the Indian accounting system are uniformity, secrecy with some transparency and conservatism with some optimism, which are as expected, based on the cultural values of India. The process of accounting change is seen to be political with government involvement in accounting, accounting regulations promulgated through the parliamentary system and accounting change being the outcome of interactions, both formal and informal, between the main parties interested in accounting, identified to be government regulatory institutions, professional accounting institutes, the corporate sector and parliament. The theoretical framework is shown to be helpful in the analysis of both culture and politics on accounting change in India.