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The influence of emotions and culture on accountability and governance

S. Velayutham (Sivakumar Velayutham is at the College of Business and Management, University of Sharjah, Sharjah, United Arab Emirates. Fax: 009716‐5050513; E‐mail:
M. H. B. Perera (Hector Perera is at the Department of Accountancy and Business Law, Massey University, Palmerston North, New Zealand. E‐mail:

Corporate Governance

ISSN: 1472-0701

Article publication date: 1 March 2004



Accountability has frequently been presented as a rational practice that can and should be implemented in all governance structures including civil society, economic institutions and organizations. In accounting, it has been identified as a primary objective of financial reporting. This paper examines two emotional states, i.e. guilt and shame that are likely to influence accountability. The paper argues that (a) accountability through information disclosure is a cultural practice closely associated with the emotional state of guilt that is common in certain cultures, and (b) in cultures where the emotional state of shame is common, accountability is likely to be weak and, people are likely to be negatively inclined towards information disclosure. Studies in psychology have also shown that “typical” shame experiences were common in collectivistic, large power‐distance and high uncertainty avoidance cultures; while “typical” guilt experiences were more pronounced in individualistic, small power distance and low uncertainty avoidance cultures.



Velayutham, S. and Perera, M.H.B. (2004), "The influence of emotions and culture on accountability and governance", Corporate Governance, Vol. 4 No. 1, pp. 52-64.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2004, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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