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Rethinking Accounting Professionalisation in China : A Study of the Development of the Chinese Public Accounting Profession since the “Reform and Opening-up”


Summary, in English

This thesis is a study of the development of the Chinese public accounting profession since China launched the “Reform and Opening-up” policy in 1978. The current, established theoretical representations of accounting professionalisation in China are predominantly underpinned by Gramsci’s (1971) hegemony perspective. Such a hegemony perspective has led to a one-sided understanding of accounting professionalisation in China. It is one-sided in the sense that accounting professionalisation in China is treated as a predictable end in itself – i.e. depending on the focused and studied actor (e.g. the Chinese state or the Big Four), this very actor is set to achieve and retain dominance over the process of accounting professionalisation in China. This thesis argues that such a one-sided understanding is overly simplistic because it presumes that other actors are fully aware of how power operates but consciously choose to go along with it.

The aim of this thesis is to nuance the hegemony representations of accounting professionalisation in China. Drawing on previously unaccessed archive materials and a series of interviews with representatives of the Chinese public accounting profession, this thesis examines the interactions between key domestic and international actors involved in and the impact of such interactions on the process of accounting professionalisation in China over time. This thesis demonstrates that, through interactions, actors collectively construct an evolving consensus on the institutional arrangements that are central to two key aspects of accounting professionalisation in China: the organisation of the professional domain and the practice of professionals within the professional domain. In contrast to the hegemony representations, neither the Chinese state nor the Big Four were found to be fully capable of dominating the process of accounting professionalisation in China. The process is more complicated than that recognised in prior studies, involving ongoing interactions between the Chinese state, the Big Four and other actors including, most significantly, the CICPA. The interactions between these actors are also relevant for the identity construction of individual practitioners. In doing so, this thesis provides more nuanced insights that help to deepen our understanding of accounting professionalisation in China.

Publishing year





Lund Studies in Economics and Management



Document type



Lund University


  • Business Administration


  • public accounting profession
  • accounting professionalisation
  • professional accounting body
  • the Chinese state
  • Big Four
  • China





  • ISBN: 978-91-8039-081-1
  • ISBN: 978-91-8039-082-8

Defence date

25 November 2021

Defence time


Defence place



  • Timur Uman (Associate Professor)