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A Bangladesh soap opera: Privatisation, accounting, and regimes of control in a less developed country

Uddin, S and Hopper, T (2001) 'A Bangladesh soap opera: Privatisation, accounting, and regimes of control in a less developed country.' Accounting, Organizations and Society, 26 (7-8). 643 - 672. ISSN 0361-3682

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This paper reports an intensive case study of a soap manufacturing company in Bangladesh that was nationalised upon Bangladesh's independence in 1971 and privatised in 1993. Theoretically it is informed by Burawoy's contributions to labour process theory, especially how the consent of labour is manufactured through internal states, internal labour markets and games, and how regimes of control in less developed ex-colonial countries are transformed by state and production politics. How the role of accounting systems may shape and be shaped by these processes is traced. Nationalisation brought state attempts to manufacture consent by the methods described in Burawoy's depiction of hegemonic regimes. However, idealistic attempts to secure accountability, rational planning and control, and consent through bureaucratic means were subverted and transformed into a regime of political hegemony. Here control was secured by political interventions, often at the behest of trade unions, for party political rather than commercial ends. Detailed systems of accounting for control and accountability were maintained but became marginal, ritualistic, and de-coupled from operations. Privatisation brought changes consistent with Burawoy's prediction of coercive controls within a new despotic regime. New owners destroyed the internal state and internal labour markets and, following widespread redundancies, most workers were hired through internal subcontracting. The changes heightened worker divisions and rendered workers powerless to resist. Gaming was observed but this relieved the pressures of work intensification and proved functional to management. Significant changes to accounting controls were made. External reporting ceased in violation of legal requirements - financial accounting became the preserve of the owning family and was beset with irregularities. Budgets became more market oriented and were transmitted downwards in a physical form to reinforce coercive pressures upon managers and thence the shop floor. The paper concludes by relating the findings to a revised model of transformation of control regimes in Bangladesh © 2001 Elsevier Science Ltd. All rights reserved.

Item Type: Article
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HF Commerce > HF5601 Accounting
Divisions: Faculty of Social Sciences > Essex Business School
Faculty of Social Sciences > Essex Business School > Essex Accounting Centre
Depositing User: Shahzad Uddin
Date Deposited: 24 Jan 2017 10:31
Last Modified: 05 Feb 2019 11:16

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