Accounting, Ideological and Political Work and Chinese multinational operations: A neo-Gramscian perspective

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This paper critically analyses the role of accounting in China’s new phase of politically driven economic reforms, which is the international expansion of Chinese enterprises. In particular, the paper examines how China’s multinational state-owned enterprise (SOE) and its managers conceive of, and use, accounting and control practices in response to the state’s international political and economic objectives. Drawing upon neo-Gramscian concepts of hegemony, this study contends that the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) has sought to create and maintain its hegemony by turning its political ideologies into initiatives of “economic development”, articulated through intensive ideological and political work exercised from the national to the organisational level. The study highlights the role of SOE managers in accommodating accounting and control practices in line with the state’s hegemonic and ideological demands. Crucially, it reveals the ability of managers to coordinate and balance the state’s political ends and the enterprise’s economic interests, where there is a selective use of accounting and control practices deployed for reasons beyond their economic functionality. This paper argues that it is necessary to include the superstructure and economic base of the Chinese state in a hegemonic analysis, and to investigate how the managerial cadre engages with ideology building at the organisational level. By focusing on the Chinese state’s new political dynamism regarding the expansion of multinational business operations, this paper provides new insights into the complexity of the motivations underlying the use of accounting and control practices in a globalised context.
Original languageEnglish
Article number102160
JournalCritical Perspectives on Accounting
Early online date21 Feb 2020
Publication statusPublished - 13 Jan 2021


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