Beyond the accounting profession: a professionalisation project in the South Korean public sector accounting field

Ahn, P. D. and Jacobs, K. (2019) Beyond the accounting profession: a professionalisation project in the South Korean public sector accounting field. Accounting, Auditing and Accountability Journal, 32(1), pp. 101-132. (doi: 10.1108/AAAJ-11-2016-2795)

161897.pdf - Accepted Version



Purpose: The purpose of this paper is to explore how an accounting association and its key members define, control, and claim their knowledge; adopt a closure and/or openness policy to enhance their status/influence; and respond to structural/institutional forces from international organisations and/or the state in a particular historical context, such as a globalised/neo-liberalised setting. Design/methodology/approach: The authors draw on Pierre Bourdieu’s theoretical tools (field, capital, habitus, and doxa) to understand how public sector accrual accounting was defined, and how the Korean Association for Government Accounting was formed and represented as a group with public sector accounting expertise. The research context was the implementation of accrual accounting in South Korea between 1997/1998, when the Asian financial crisis broke out, and 2006/2007, when accrual accounting was enforced by legislation. The authors interviewed social actors recognised as public sector accounting experts, in addition to examining related documents such as articles in academic journals, newsletters, invitations, membership forms, newspaper articles, and curricula vitae. Findings: The authors found that the key founders of KAGA included some public administration professors, who advocated public sector accrual accounting via civil society groups immediately after Korea applied to the International Monetary Fund for bailout loans and a new government was formed in 1997/1998. In conjunction with public servants, they defined and designed public sector accrual accounting as a measure of public sector reform and as a part of the broader government budget process, rather than as an accounting initiative. They also co-opted accounting professors and CPA-qualified accountants through their personal connections, based on shared educational backgrounds, to represent the association as a public sector accounting experts’ group. Originality/value: These findings suggest that the study of the accounting profession cannot be restricted to a focus on professional accounting associations and that accounting knowledge can be acquired by non-accountants. Therefore, the authors argue that the relationship between accounting knowledge, institutional forms, and key actors’ strategies is rich and multifaceted.

Item Type:Articles
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Ahn, Dr Paul
Authors: Ahn, P. D., and Jacobs, K.
College/School:College of Social Sciences > Adam Smith Business School > Accounting and Finance
Journal Name:Accounting, Auditing and Accountability Journal
Publisher:Emerald Group Publishing Limited
ISSN (Online):0951-3574
Published Online:21 January 2019
Copyright Holders:Copyright © 2018 Emerald Publishing Limited
First Published:First published in Accounting, Auditing and Accountability Journal 32(1):101-132
Publisher Policy:Reproduced in accordance with the copyright policy of the publisher

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