Emerald Group Publishing Limited
Inter/national accounting cuisine?
Article Type: Literature and insights From: Accounting, Auditing & Accountability Journal, Volume 28, Issue 1
Is there a national flavour to accounting statements? I recently wrote a review of a series of TV food shows that focused on numerous national cuisines that call Australia home. My own country doesn’t seem to have a strongly identified fare of its own, though writer Peter Goldsworthy once suggested it was all encapsulated in the lamington, a sponge cake rolled in chocolate sauce and desiccated coconut. I think his tongue was firmly in his cheek. What then is uniquely characteristic of British accounting reports, or Singaporean, or Australian ones? Is there a taste to the accounting statements of one’s own place? Do North American accounts somehow sing the blues? Do Asian ones have a spicy tang? This all risks a rapid descent into stereotyping, I know.
And yet some countries are reckoned to evidence a particular way of thinking – and, fairly or not, this often does emerge in certain kinds of stories. You only have to consider all of the jokes about Irish logic to see that (though there’s no word of truth in any of them, of course). Why should that not translate into use of a reporting language whose characteristics echo its country of origin?
If you will permit a diversion, I’ll take to the world of automotive engineering for another example, where there are contrasting approaches to style and image and economy on which the marketing departments like to trade. Ferrari for grace and Hyundai for value? But, then, it’s more idiosyncrasies that I had in mind. The Peugeot 308 car had to be converted to right hand drive for the Australian market. Logically enough, when the steering wheel swapped sides, the glove compartment (a refrigerated one, by the way) was moved from right to left. Oddly, it seems that the company couldn’t be bothered to swap the fuse-box from left to right when it did so. Result? The glove compartment in the Peugeot sold here holds a set of very cool fuses and, as a result, there is apparently little room in there for anything else except a pair of cool gloves. Does that say something about the French or the Australian way of doing things?
But back to food, and accounting. Could we extend the notion of celebrating differences by having an international reality TV show, perhaps titled Master Auditor? Each participating country could have a series of heats with 30-minute audits, and even mystery audits where the contestants are sent blindfolded to a business and shown into a room full of files. The reveal! You can imagine the grand finale, too. In a hot studio, the world’s best auditors (according to the promotional material, anyway) appear together in an international show where they are supplied with identical sets of accounts and asked to write up a report within an hour. The judging criteria could include allowances for such things as the degree of difficulty, originality in presentation, extent of completion, accuracy, conciseness, and style. The tension! The spectacle!
All of this would be overseen by celebrity auditors who keep alluding to the sponsors’ products. Great opportunities, too, for advertisers to spruik their accounting and auditing wares during the show breaks! There could be a DVD in it, and a highlights book. Maybe a special issue of the Accounting, Auditing and Accountability Journal (AAAJ)?
On a much more serious note, although still about competition, is Shi-Min How’s timely reminder of the pressure that many aspiring accountants endure in order to become accredited in their profession. Some fall by the way, with devastating results. Do you have support groups in your organisation for young scholars?
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Steve Evans, Literary Editor
Accounting, Auditing and Accountability Journal (AAAJ) welcomes submissions of both research papers and creative writing. Creative writing in the form of poetry and short prose pieces is edited for the Literature and Insights Section only and does not undergo the refereeing procedures required for all research papers published in the main body of AAAJ. Author guidelines for contributions to this section of the journal can be found http://www.emeraldinsight.com/ products/journals/author_guidelines.htm?id=aaaj