Edited by Trevor Hopper, Mathew Tsamenyi, Shahzad Uddin and Danture Wickramasinghe
Chapter 5: Accounting Professionalization in Developing Countries
Chris Poullaos and Chibuike U. Uche INTRODUCTION Over 35 years ago Terry Johnson (1973) wondered whether professional occupations ‘armed only with the authority of expertise’ could or would contribute to a democratic and prosperous future for third world countries (p. 281). Would they, accountancy included, contribute to economic growth and political development and act as a bulwark against political elites in one-party states ‘despite the fact that they may share a common status and occupational background’ (p. 282)? Johnson thought not, in part because he doubted that professionalism was a cultural universal capable of being transmitted from a single metropolitan source (Britain) to ‘a wide variety of receiving cultures’ (p. 284). Today the International Federation of Accountants (IFAC), the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA) and the international accounting/professional services firms – cross-border entities networked with transnational institutions such as the WTO – are among those operating as though a universal professionalism exists, or can and should be made to exist, across the world. In particular IFAC’s current efforts to establish ‘global’ professional educational/ accreditation standards (along with standards on ethics, assurance, management accounting and the public sector) to complement the financial reporting standards produced by the International Accounting Standards Board (IASB) suggest that Johnson’s broad issue remains live. Just as the relevance to developing countries of the IASB’s international financial reporting standards (IFRS) and ‘Western’ accounting practices more broadly have long been questioned,1 so may the associated efforts to influence the organization, education and training of practitioners in developing nations....
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