Politics of Accounting Evidence in Privatising Sri Lanka Telecom (2018)
AuthorsGunatilake G, Lord BR, Dixon Kshow all
Purpose: The objective of this paper is to explore the role of accounting information used by people with power to manipulate the perceptions of the audience of an organisation and build trust in uncertain circumstances. Approach: The study takes a qualitative approach. We examined the claims made by interviewees and published documentary evidence to identify how contextual and partial knowledge was constructed and communicated in shaping the perceptions of individuals and gaining support for privatisation of Sri Lanka Telecom. Findings: The power to control the availability of accounting information, the audience's lack of knowledge, the well-regarded reputation of newly introduced Japanese management practices and the engagement of employees in implementing new accounting and management practices enabled the Government and the policy implementers to rationalise the privatisation process and counter opponents. Research implications: The study raises the importance of challenging the use of accounting information by people with the power to define the context in uncertain situations, particularly in a non-western context. Originality/value: The evidence collected in this study was not limit to annual reports as in many extant studies. It provides a broad and comprehensive perspective on the use of accounting information in constructing and defining a context under uncertain circumstances by using documentary evidence such as newspapers, corporate reports and administration reports, as well as information obtained from interviews.