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Religious “spirit” and peoples' perceptions of accountability in Hindu and Buddhist religious organizations

Jayasinghe, K and Soobaroyen, T (2009) 'Religious “spirit” and peoples' perceptions of accountability in Hindu and Buddhist religious organizations.' Accounting, Auditing & Accountability Journal, 22 (7). 997 - 1028. ISSN 0951-3574

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Abstract

Purpose- The purpose of this paper is to examine how the Buddhist and Hindu people in non-Western societies perceive rational accountability practices in religious organizations, through their respective religious “spirit” and “beliefs” and in combination with broader structural elements of the society.Design/methodology/approach- The interpretive tradition of research, i.e. ethnography based on two in-depth cases from Sri Lanka (a Buddhist temple) and Mauritius (a Hindu temple) is adopted for the data collection. The data are analysed using grounded theory methods and procedures.Findings- In non-Western Buddhist and Hindu societies where people's lives are bound by a high religious “spirit” the accountability system in the religious organisations is largely visible as an informal and social practice rather than a stakeholder-oriented rational mechanism. It is found that the rational accountability mechanisms are “sacredised” by the Buddhist and Hindu religious “spirit” and subsequently, the accountability systems and religious activities are both influenced by the “structural elements” of trust, aspirations, patronage and loyalty relations, social status, power and rivalries. The accountability practices implemented in these organisations are perceived by the people as being no more than “ceremonial rituals” aimed at strengthening the temple's righteous and prudent image to the religious society.Research limitations/implications- The paper raises the issue that accountability practices in community, grassroots-based non-profit organisations are not mere reporting of “facts” relating to economic activities and a “neutral system” giving reasons for the conduct of its leaders. Instead, they initiate new forms of accountability systems and reproduce structural conditions.Originality/value- This is one of the first field studies which examine perceptions of accountability within a Hindu and a Buddhist context, as influenced by the religious “spirit” and internal belief systems of the devotees. Previous studies have mostly focused on Judeo-Christian or Islamic denominations. © 2009, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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: Jim Jamieson
Date Deposited: 15 Dec 2012 20:28
Last Modified: 30 Jan 2019 16:16
URI: http://repository.essex.ac.uk/id/eprint/4713

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