Devising Classificatory Frameworks of Accountings’ Consequences: An illustrative Pacific study of the economic, social, cultural and natural
Purpose: Applications of accounting ideas and practices invariably have consequences. The people in any way responsible for these applications cannot know all possible consequences; however, this predicament is yet more reason to anticipate as many as possible, and behave accordingly. Our article responds to arguments that in order to increase the impact of research into accounting ideas and practices, researchers should give greater priority than hitherto to knowing about the consequences of accountings. Method: We deal with the concept of consequences and exemplify how appreciating them is an interpretative process. We illustrate this process through studying an identity longitudinally, taking an eclectic approach and making liberal use of theoretical perspectives. Our empirical materials are from Nikunau Island and where I-Nikunau (i.e., indigenes of Nikunau) Diaspora reside—Tarawa Atoll, and other Pacific locations and Great Britain— along with further places where accounting usages affecting them have emanated (e.g., Rome, Washington and Manila). These usages relate to industrial hunting of marine life, trading for copra, mining for fertiliser, religion making, civilising and developing the people through colonial governance, and developing and emerging their economy with aid from neoimperial organisations. Findings: We argue that accounting usages have caused or possibilitated wide-ranging and far-reaching alterations to life among I-Nikunau, including that the majority now lives outside Nikunau. These alterations may be regarded as consequences of accounting usages, albeit in conjunction with those of many other actions, events, etc. Having drawn terms from a range of disciplines, we classify the consequences as macro- and micro-economic, distributional, organisational, political, social, environmental, societal, cultural, educational, geographical, demographical, spiritual, nutritional and biological, and we present these 15 classes in a framework specific to I-Nikunau. Originality: We commend our approach to other researchers of accounting and other disciplines in order to induce equivalent classificatory frameworks relevant to their identities of study. We also put forward a canoe metaphor to help shape researchers’ endeavours and qualify a definition of accounting to help users of accounting technology to have greater consideration for accountings’ consequences.