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REVIEW COMMENTS. PAPER: Rethinking China: Discourse and Fair Value Accounting AUTHORS OF PAPER : Eagle Zhang*, Jane Andrew University of Sydney AUTHOR OF COMMENTS: Mark Christensen, Southern Cross University (July 2014). Summary of manuscript. Objective:

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review comments

REVIEW COMMENTS

PAPER: Rethinking China: Discourse and Fair Value Accounting

AUTHORS OF PAPER: Eagle Zhang*, Jane Andrew University of Sydney

AUTHOR OF COMMENTS: Mark Christensen, Southern Cross University

(July 2014)

summary of manuscript

Summary of manuscript

Objective:

Using Critical Discourse Analysis applied to Fair Value Accounting discourse in China to examine the relationship between (1) accounting discourse, (2) discussions of an ‘efficient’ and ‘free’ market and (3) the neoliberalisation of China. Drawing on discourses produced both from ‘power’ (government, media, leading academics) and those present within dissenting views to demonstrate how discourse has been mobilised to facilitate regulatory change within China.

summary of manuscript1

Summary of manuscript

Setting the stage:

Authors ground their interest in the modern China’s tension between surplus orientation of the market and the welfare orientation of socialism (“China’s Socialist Market Economy”).

FVA spreading to various parts of the world but the

Chinese context throws light on underlying neoliberalism.

summary of manuscript2

Summary of manuscript

  • Theoretical perspective:
  • Discourse as form of social practice
    • Discourse is not one-way but is interactive & vital to our construction of reality
    • Social structure underlies discourse but is both a condition and an effect of discourse

Need to expose the ideological dimension

of discursive practices.

summary of manuscript3

Summary of manuscript

  • Method:
  • Three dimensional framework of Critical Discourse Analysis (CDA; Fairclough, 1992):
  • Text: 1st dimension being the discourse itself
  • Discursive practice: 2nd dimension being the production, distribution and consumption of the discourse
  • Social practice: 3rd dimension being under power relations where discourse articulates or challenges hegemonies
  • Applied to Chinese (a) academic literature and (b) government and media discourse
summary of manuscript4

Summary of manuscript

Highest ranked actg journal;

12 issues pa. about 13 papers each

  • Data sources (archival):
  • Academic literature journals 2006-10:
    • (Chinese) Accounting Research : 25 articles (20 for; 2 against; 3 neutral) (App#1 overview)
    • Another 10 articles from ranked journals (not sure which)
  • Chinese Government pronouncements as regulatory authority
  • Leading Chinese news outlets – online versions
summary of manuscript5

Summary of manuscript

1st dimension:

  • Strong consistency in the discourse favours FVA as:
  • Provides more relevant information
  • Enhances China’s participation in globalisation
  • Indicates China has a well-established market economy
  • Useful information for market participant decision-making

“there can be little doubt that the framing of FVA by these academics in

terms of ‘markets’ and ‘relevance’ aligns the technical practices of

accounting with the changing political economy within China” P. 11

Keywords: ‘market economy’, ‘value relevance to investors’, ‘capital

market efficiency’, ‘international convergence of accounting standards’

summary of manuscript6

Summary of manuscript

3 variables: ‘field’ (the event = FVA); ‘tenor’ (social participants and

relations = academics & govt officials); ‘mode’ (part played by

discourse in the activity = significant)

2nd dimension:

  • Analysing discourse consistency (‘intertextuality’) indicates:
  • Key players presented similar comments (even the NAO!)
  • Intertextuality contrasts with non-mainstream negative views
  • Relatively stable networks
  • Govt and media discourse consistency around ‘improve market economic system’, ‘opening up’, ‘conforms to global convergence trend’, ‘security market innovation’

media censorship = a big institutional factor implying a relatively ‘stable’

network in which texts move and undergo predictable transformations;

understanding it is critical to help decode how the text fits in with the

experience of the discourse producers and consumers in China

summary of manuscript7

Summary of manuscript

2nd dimension conclusion:

“This type of narrowness not only implies a kind of collaboration between key players that effaces the complexity and multiplicity of the event under investigation, but also helps fracture the possibility of any benevolent effect from the adoption of globalised accounting regulations and techniques” (p. 15)

summary of manuscript8

Summary of manuscript

3rd dimension:

  • This dimension views discourse as a crucial part of the social practices that (re)produce existing social power relations:
  • Even negative views of FVA (limited to lower ranked journals) confirm the keywords
  • Non-mainstream given “limited space in the debate” (p. 16)

“alternative discourses unconsciously align with its proponents,

through a shared belief in the benevolence of a free-market

mechanism” (p. 17)

summary of manuscript9

Summary of manuscript

Interpretative conclusions:

The depoliticization of China was made possible largely through discourse that prioritises market oriented economics over other aspects of social and political life (discourse helps neutralise the appearance of ideology).

The power of this hegemony is covert, but made visible by exposing the socio-cognitive aspects of text production and interpretation. It reveals the deeper consciousness that Chinese society has ascribed to those textual representations, and what implications it has in naturalising neoliberal ideology.

Exposing this discursive singularity may challenge FVA

interesting features of the paper

Interesting features of the paper

Is brave to attempt CDA in a single paper where the micro (textual representations) and the macro (neoliberal economic and political shifts) are connected

Clearly written with nice turns of phrase

Opens a Chinese literature to an English-speaking audience – a privileged insight thru’ 4 valuable appendices

Provokes future research and builds on prior FVA in China work

reflective comments

Reflective comments

  • 1. What is going on here?
  • Perhaps, for the sake of brevity, the paper’s assumed knowledge is too wide. To even slightly grasp the issue of FVA in China, it is necessary to go to the institutional framework of standard setting and the reality of accounting practice in China.
  • The reader needs the how, when, what and why of standard setting in China

A background/contextual section to the paper would be helpful

reflective comments1

Reflective comments

“not a one-way vehicle for representation

but is also interactive” (p. 7)

  • 2. Just what is ‘discourse’?
  • If discourse involves two-way communication, can CDA apply to a one-way directive?
    • Was China’s adoption of IFRS simply a directive from Government and the data examined here merely impression management following a hidden decision making process?
    • The strongly supportive commentary in ActgRes seems strange since (a) it lacks empirical support and (b) outside China FVA generates controversy
  • What do we make of this?
reflective comments2

Reflective comments

  • 3. Literature review in a CDA bottle?
  • The paper essentially reviews two literatures: academic (split into ResActg and other Chinese recognised journals) and Govt and media (which is govt controlled - hence a mirror of govt)
  • But in times of accounting change we know (suspect?) that academic and professional literatures behave differently – at least in the west!
    • i. Professional literature dominates early in the process of change in number, speed to publish and normative nature (supportive)
      • ii. Academic literature likely to be later, growing in number, empirical and split in assessment of the change

Shouldn’t CDA take into account this ‘meta view’ of the

academic and professional literature interplay?

reflective comments3

Reflective comments

4. Discourse as ‘social practice’

The 3rd dimension (‘social practice’) is empirically demanding but the paper doesn’t quite satisfy here. Can reliance on academic papers (‘low level’ journals) reflectsocial practice? Or should that text be included in the 1st dimension? It is difficult to see the difference between the 1st and 3rd dimensions here. Further, apparently the papers used to understand this 3rddimension are conceptual and lacking in empirical data. Thus, the 3rd dimension seems to lack a solid empirical base for understanding social practice.

reflective comments4

Reflective comments

4. Discourse as ‘social practice’ (cont.)

It may be that data is available but I don’t find it in the paper (especially Section 4.3). For example, is it possible to consider social practice in China without recourse to the controls exerted by the Party on the various mechanisms of Chinese society – including academic writing?

Can we see the context of FVA discourse without recognising how China grapples with inevitable tension from ‘a more muscular state hand on the levers of capitalism’ and ‘the free market’ (egWTO rulings denying market-based status and hence not having protection against claims of Chinese dumping?)

reflective comments5

Reflective comments

  • 5. CDA and alternate methodology
  • CDA vs Actor-Network Theory:
  • Can CDA complement ANT?
    • Strong focus on semiotics
  • Can ANT’s focus on identity assist CDA?
  • China’s network of controls might mean neither CDA nor ANT are able to decode ‘what is going on here’

From a western (and ignorant) perspective, China presents so

many fascinating conundrums! FVA and what stands behind it

is an important one and deserves attention.

rethinking china summation

Rethinking China - summation

Improved understanding of China is crucially important

‘4 + 1’ reflections on the paper

谢谢 !!