حسابداری برای توسعه اقتصادی در دوران پس از استعمار: تجربه فیجی
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Publisher : Elsevier - Science Direct (الزویر - ساینس دایرکت)
Journal : Critical Perspectives on Accounting, Volume 15, Issue 1, January 2004, Pages 135–157
This paper presents a study of change in the operations and accounting practices within the Fijian Development Bank (FDB). These changes in practices cannot be understood outside the complex historically constituted contradictions and related tensions in Fijian society. The Bank is faced with the (impossible) task of reconciling a history of colonisation and racial discrimination with the forces of globalisation and drive for economic development. The establishment of profit-centres at Branch level and insistence on profit-driven, commercialised loan and repayment policies contrast with the communal culture of its indigenous people. The contradictions and tensions outside the Bank are evident within. The analysis attempts to make explicit the socio-historic specificity of the contradictions and raises questions about the meaning of development and the nature of development banks.
Colonialism was not an identical process in different parts of the world but everywhere it locked the original inhabitants and the newcomers into the most complex and traumatic relationships in human history (Brookfield, 1972 and Loomba, 1998). The models, strategies and practices of colonialism have differed from time to time and place to place and therefore, it may be difficult to theorise colonialism as some particular instances are bound to negate any generalisation made about the nature of colonialism or of resistance to it. Further, there always exists a certain degree of reduction in any attempt to simplify, schematise or summarise complex debates and histories and a study of colonialism is vulnerable to such problems as a result of its heterogeneous practices and impact over the last four centuries. For these reasons, it is becoming increasingly clear that only localised theories and historically specific accounts can provide better insights into the varied articulations of colonising practices. The process of ‘forming a community’ in the new land also meant un-forming or reforming communities that already existed there through a wide range of practices such as warfare, trade, negotiations and so on (Loomba, 1998). Colonialism may be defined as the conquest and control of other people’s land and resources and while earlier colonialisms were pre-capitalist, modern colonialism was established alongside capitalism. The latter may have done more than wealth maximisation, restructuring the economies of the colonies through the flow of human and natural resources into a complex relationship, but not without unintended consequences. With regard to ‘post-colonialism’ the concept is so heterogeneous and diffuse that it is almost impossible to define or describe what its study might entail (Loomba, 1998). For the purpose of this study it might be useful to think of it as ‘not just coming literally after colonialism and signifying its demise, but more flexibly as the contestation of colonial domination and the legacies of colonialism’ (ibid, p. 12). In the Pacific region divergent conditions produced wide contrasts in the policies of colonial rulers and there is a shared understanding among historians that colonial experiences in Fiji were at variance in comparison to British colonies elsewhere (Brookfield, 1972). Fiji’s annexation to the British Crown was mainly on the grounds of some influential chiefs unable to maintain their power against their rivals and to control considerable European settler population in the early 19th century. But this does not mean that colonialism in Fiji cannot be placed within the trajectory of capitalism, inherent contradictions and tensions therein. Australian capitalists such as Colonial Sugar Refinery (CSR), Carpenters, Burns Philip (BP), Australia and New Zealand Bank (ANZ), among others have had, and continue to have a dominant role in the Fijian economy. The aim of this paper is to explore the colonial roots of present day economic management in Fiji and to illustrate how accounting and control systems are implicated in such practices. Broadly speaking, there are two strands of research tradition in accounting, linking colonial influences in the post-colonial period. The first type of research tends to relate present day accounting practices and education with colonial accounting systems, mainly tracing the influences of company laws and other bureaucratic practices (Annisette, 2000, Hove, 1986, Wallace, 1990 and Wijewardena and Yapa, 1998). The second strand of research tries to see how accounting discourse and techniques were selectively used in the role of subjectification and control of colonies to legitimate colonial rule (Bell et al., 1995 and Smith, 1990). Accounting is seen as a technique that facilitated the translation of imperial objectives into practice and also used as a controlling devise from a distance (Miller and Rose, 1990 and Neu, 2000). As there are differences between various patterns of colonialism (Loomba, 1998, Neu, 2000 and Said, 1993), it would be difficult to establish a general post-colonial experience. Accounting played quite different roles based on the intentions of colonial rulers in different colonies. In this paper, we shall explore a case where colonial practices were possibly unique. Unlike most colonies where communities were displaced from their land and were subjected to bureaucratic rules, the Fijian indigenous people were protected from such alienation and we argue that a different form of colonisation took place there. Accounting logic was used to protect the rights of indigenous people. The paper illustrates how even after independence such practices tended to privilege certain groups in the society. The post-colonial era in most countries saw movements by indigenous people reclaiming their land (Tully, 1995) and re-establishing their way traditional life. The situation in Fiji differed in that post-colonial developments were discernible in preserving community and at the same time introducing modern management in non-community based organisations, in the commercial sector and in government organisations. Such development has created a contradiction between economic management and traditional values. The main purpose of this paper is to understand how indigenous people were protected and how such protection became implicated in the management of an economic organisation (e.g. Fiji Development Bank) to maintain indigenous land rights. It was partly to protect the indigenous people of Fiji from such alienation and stress that a different form of colonisation emerged. The good intentions in one respect did not prevent the development of a different form of contradictions and of ethnic tensions and divisions that continue to jeopardise the social and economic development of that country. It is these kind of issues that are addressed in this study. In Fiji, an attempt was made to protect the indigenous people from alienation from their lands and loss of culture. The Fijian tribal and Chieftain system was retained. The colonisers and the Fijian Chiefs devised a scheme to protect the latter’s privileges and customs, while at the same time profiting from greater productivity of the land. There was a collusion between the British colonisers and the Fijian Chiefs (Davie, 2000) who together devised a scheme to import Indian indentured workers for Australian monopoly capitalist CSR that controlled the entire and vital sugar industry in Fiji. Tens of thousands of labourers were transported to the new colony, and in time the immigrant population grew to a size equalling that of the indigenous population. The legacy of this form of colonisation is evident in the complexity and contradictions in Fijian social and institutional life today. This paper attempts to highlight such contradictions and to show how they affect the institution charged with progressing the economic development of Fiji. We examine the operations and accounting within the Fiji Development Bank (FDB). The Bank is an institution charged with promoting agricultural and rural development of Fiji. Its operation and its management control systems cannot be understood aside from the social and political environment which reflects to a large extent the imprint of colonisation. The processes for loan approval and tracking are examined to see if they contribute to the drive for general economic development and/or to social and cultural problems. The remainder of the paper is divided into eight sections. The next section looks at the theoretical and methodological concerns of the study centred on the concept of contradiction, followed by a discussion on Fiji’s colonial history. The remaining five sections attempt to illuminate the presence of structural contradictions within the wider Fijian social order and within the activities and accounting practices of the FDB. The paper ends with a summary, conclusion and implications for further research.
نتیجه گیری انگلیسی
To understand better why things are as they are in Fiji, it is important that they are captured in the context of historically constituted social structures through collaboration between British colonial rulers and the indigenous chiefs of the country. In the name of preserving social structures and protecting the indigenous community from exploitation, the colonial rulers devised schemes to their advantage, so as to extract surplus value from land—a glaring contradiction, discussed earlier. Two important features of the collaborative process were the emergence of communal ownership of land, making any alienation to the users for economic development, an impossibility, and the importation of Indian indentured workers to Fiji. Thus race relations and contradictory land structures remain today as the main obstacles to the overall development of the nation. The historical discussions in this study are consistent with the observations made by Davie (2000) based on her archival research. However, this case-based study examined in detail how colonial structures and practices are intertwined with accounting controls in an organisational context. At least three issues could be reflected here: (a) Accounting played different roles in different colonies as we explained before. Again, such roles can be different even within the same geographical territory. In Fiji, colonial practices were selectively applied in different aspects of the society. In the area of land-ownership, the colonial rulers tried to preserve traditional culture by giving rights to indigenous people. (b) Colonial accounting practices in the areas of land were designed to protect community rights. Land management was vested to a separate organisation, The Native Land Trust Board, where every piece of native land was bureaucratically codified and recorded. Such practices were developed so that the native lands could be preserved for the benefit of Fijian indigenous people. (c) Colonial accounting treatments of land persisted after the post-colonial period and such practices were implicated with the FDB. The case study materials in this study demonstrate how the contradictory structures of the wider Fijian social order impinge upon organisational design, and accounting and control systems, and in turn get reconstituted. The historically constituted political, land, race and other customary Fijian structures are drawn upon, which in turn reproduces these structural components of the Fijian social system. These have been the major constraining elements in the development of the nation as a whole, and reasons for conflict between the two major races (Native Fijians and Indo-Indians). The case study also demonstrates that the activities of the FDB and its management control systems cannot be separated from historically constituted social, economic and political structures of the wider social order. Social, cultural and political dimensions of the Fijian economy that exist to-day, including the FDB’s management control systems are products of imperial governance through indigenous collaboration, and the current Fijian crises further cements such structures. Since inception to date, the FDB, in discharge of its functions, is expected to ‘give special consideration and priority to the economic development of the rural and agricultural sectors of the economy of Fiji’ (The FDB Act, 1985, p. 6), yet the land tenure system in Fiji is such that it makes this task for the FDB an impossibility. The majority of the land in Fiji (about 83%) is native-owned, for it was the belief of the colonial government that if the native race were to be preserved, then it must be permitted to retain the ownership and control of its land (Ward, 1995). The communal land structure that was organised as a result of the above concerns is contradictory to the overall economic development in the country. Race and ethnicity, a feature of the wider social order, is inscribed in the daily life of the activities of the FDB. Segregation on ethnic lines is obvious. The various programs of the FDB to promote the interests of Fijians and Rotumans reproduce this characteristic of the wider social order. The setting up of ‘Special Loans Division’ to look after the interests of the indigenous community, and the favoured loan terms and conditions, contribute to racial conflicts and tensions. With respect to staffing, the higher echelon of the FDB is dominated by Fijians, whereas at the middle and lower levels, racial balance has been more or less maintained. Indigenous dominance in the Board, and within the higher echelon of the Bank is fairly obvious. Nearly 90% of the board members and 85% of the profit centre managers are indigenous Fijians. The FDB’s activities, the organisational hierarchy, and the related management accounting controls are also indigenised. Given that there are no such provisions for other ethnic groups, who also lag behind, the FDB is regarded by a large number of rural people as the bank for the Fijians (or non-Indians). It is thus argued that the FDB and its management accounting controls contribute to the reproduction or reconstitution of race and ethnic relations, and the related tensions and conflicts. The financial and management control systems at the FDB are based on private enterprise models. The profit-centre concept accompanied by management by objectives, are subsumed into the new corporate plan, and together with a performance-related pay scheme, they operate purely on notions of profitability. The 5-year rolling plan targets, annual budgetary targets, and the targets of profit-centres, and lending officers are all tied to the principles of private appropriation. The key performance indicators used in the evaluation of performance of lending personnel are ultimately linked to profitability, and hence are driving forces towards achievement of profit-related targets. In this way profit is an upfront terminology, and a daily language in the Bank, which is deterring it away from its broad objectives of promoting national development and growth. By drawing upon the above mechanisms of control, the FDB personnel reproduce, in their daily interaction, the profit-related meanings, morality, and power, as well as profit/development contradiction. The reasons behind the private enterprise model of management at the FDB mostly stem from the fact that the government expects the Bank to stand on its own feet and finance its activities from its own internally generated funds. The government’s withdrawal of annual grant, halt on further capital, and inability to honour guarantee payments have had detrimental effects on the Bank’s operations. Structural constraints associated with land leases have led to a considerable decline in agricultural lendings, thereby deterring the Bank from fulfilling its prime role of agricultural and rural development. The above, coupled with political uncertainty, excess liquidity, and low interest rates, led to stiff competition in the domestic financial sector that saw financial institutions moving out of their traditional areas of lending by introducing new products and development in information technology. In the FDB’s case, profit-centres, management by objectives, new products, and the new corporate plan based on profitability were introduced as a result of the above pressures. To remain a viable institution, the FDB has, therefore, moved towards profit-driven strategies and mechanisms of control, all of which were designed by overseas experts under the ADB technical assistance programme. The FDB’s decision to increase profitability through the introduction of new profit-based technology (corporate plan, annual budget, key performance indicators based on profit) remains contradictory to its developmental role as assigned by its Charter. Outside influences (e.g. ADB) demand profit-driven accounting practices but may fail to appreciate the socio-political realities of developing countries as illuminated in this study. The nature, role and accounting in development banks in such countries will surely differ from those of a commercial bank. At present we lack accounting systems that reflect other than private interests, and extant systems struggle to act as arbiters in social conflicts, possibly adding to rather than helping to overcome social tensions and contradictions. Finally, further research could probe more into the significance of colonial accounting practices into contemporary economic management in Fiji. Further research in accounting could build upon this study in the following areas: (a) how different sectors in Fiji (such as, commercial, public and hybrid organisations) influence and are influenced by colonial accounting practices? We would expect accounting to be different in different sectors of the Fijian society; (b) what roles have accounting played in Fijian state-owned enterprises and in their reforms? and (c) how colonial accounting logic is used selectively to legitimise certain practices and not others? The results of this study could provide an adequate methodological basis and guidance to researchers in other social science areas, hence promoting interdisciplinary research.