Accounting in the shadows of tradition: the role of national culture

Zahid R. A., Khan M. K., DEMİR V.

Management Decision, 2024 (SSCI) identifier

  • Publication Type: Article / Article
  • Publication Date: 2024
  • Doi Number: 10.1108/md-12-2022-1748
  • Journal Name: Management Decision
  • Journal Indexes: Social Sciences Citation Index (SSCI), Scopus, Periodicals Index Online, ABI/INFORM, Business Source Elite, Business Source Premier, INSPEC, MLA - Modern Language Association Database, Psycinfo, Public Affairs Index
  • Keywords: Accounting practices, Chinese culture, Confucian dynamism, Hofstede–Gray’s hypothesis, Power distance, Professionalism
  • Galatasaray University Affiliated: Yes


Purpose: Current research aims to investigate the relationships between Chinese national cultural values (uncertainty avoidance (UA), power distance, masculinity (MAS), individualism (IDV) and Confucian dynamism) and accounting practices (professionalism, uniformity, conservatism and secrecy). Design/methodology/approach: A sample of 842 users/preparers of financial statements participated in this cross-sectional, questionnaire-based survey from China. Covariance-based structural equation modeling (CB-SEM) was used to test the proposed relationship. Findings: Results show that cultural values strongly impact financial reporting practices in China. Chinese society is characterized by low UA, high power distance, collectivism, future orientation (Confucianism) and masculine traits. These values show an overall preference for uniformity, conservatism and secrecy in financial reporting with weak professionalism. The findings show that Chinese society emphasizes law abidance, strict codes of conduct, written rules and regulations and respect for consistent orthodox measures. Practical implications: This study provides valuable input for policymakers in developing regulations and accounting standards in the Chinese market. Understanding the relationship between cultural dimensions and accounting values helps to address societal challenges and align policies with cultural values to acquire desired financial reporting values. Global firm managers must consider cultural dimensions in accounting when entering Chinese markets or negotiating with partners from different cultures. Findings also suggest local managers gain self-awareness of their cultural biases and accounting values, enabling them to navigate businesses and society's financial reporting needs. Originality/value: This study enriches the existing literature on cultural and accounting practice studies by validating the role of stakeholder and social contract theories in Gray–Hofstede’s framework and highlighting the influence of dominant cultural values on accounting values. The study provides a unique empirical analysis of the Chinese market by using a questionnaire survey and structural equation modeling (SEM). Further, it also opens avenues for future research on the relationship between cultural dimensions, accounting practices and their global impact. These findings emphasize the importance of cultural sensitivity and adaptability, especially in multicultural environments.