The impact of culture on the social institutions like accounting cannot be underestimated. Before the increase in immigration and cross-border businesses, culture has been in the domain of anthropology and archaeology. This work considers whether culture affect unified global accounting practices and whether an understanding of cultural role in accounting can help to understand international accounting standards. These prove will be made evidence using the Anglo-American and Euro-Continental accounting models (Canada and France) as case study. Although there are other factors (historical, economic, and institutional, legal system, the tax laws etc) that can affect accounting harmonization, culture is a major obstacle.
SOME DEFINITIONS OF CULTURE
There is no commonly accepted definition of culture. Violet (1983a) sees culture as a system that encompasses and determines the evolution of social institutions and social phenomena. Perera (1989) regarded culture as an expression of norms, values and customs that reflect typical behavioral characteristics within a defined social grouping. Kuper 1999, (cited in Baskerville, p.2) simply defines it as “a matter of ideas and values, a collective cast of mind”.
Hofstede 1997 defined culture as “the collective programming of the mind which distinguishes the members of one group or category of people from another.”He sees cultural differences at four different levels – symbols, heroes, rituals, and values.
From the definitions, it shows that culture is shared among individuals belonging to a group or society, formed over a relatively long period and relatively stable.
In accounting context Askary, Saeed (p.2) defined culture as those environmental factors that strongly impact national accounting systems – a likely causal factor of different national accounting practices in accord with differing national cultures.