Employing neo-Durkheimian institutional theory in cross-cultural accounting research

Philip Mark Linsley, Alexander Linsley, Matthias Beck, Simon Michael Mollan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Purpose: The purpose of this paper is to propose Neo-Durkheimian institutional theory, developed by the Durkheimian institutional theory, as developed by anthropologist Mary Douglas, as a suitable theory base for undertaking cross-cultural accounting research. The social theory provides a structure for examining within-country and cross-country actions and behaviours of different groups and communities. It avoids associating nations and cultures, instead contending any nation will comprise four different solidarities engaging in constant dialogues. Further, it is a dynamic theory able to take account of cultural change. Design/methodology/approach: The paper establishes a case for using neo-Durkheimian institutional theory in cross-cultural accounting research by specifying the key components of the theory and addressing common criticisms. To illustrate how the theory might be utilised in the domain of accounting and finance research, a comparative interpretation of the different experiences of financialization in Germany and the UK is provided drawing on Douglas’s grid-group schema. Findings: Neo-Durkheimian institutional theory is deemed sufficiently capable of interpreting the behaviours of different social groups and is not open to the same criticisms as Hofstede’s work. Differences in Douglasian cultural dialogues in the post-1945 history of Germany and the UK provide an explanation of the variations in the comparative experiences of financialization. Originality/value: Neo-Durkheimian institutional theory has been used in a wide range of contexts; however, it has been little used in the context of accounting research. The adoption of the theory in future accounting research can redress a Hofstedian-bias in accounting research.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1270-1293
Number of pages24
JournalAccounting, Auditing and Accountability Journal
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - 17 Oct 2016

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  • Cross-cultural
  • Cultural change
  • Culture
  • Hofstede
  • Mary Douglas
  • Social relations

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