Year

2006

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department

School of Accounting and Finance - Faculty of Commerce

Abstract

This study examines the present and potential role of accounting information systems in meeting the development needs of developing countries, with a special focus on Libya and its unique legal, economic, religious, political and social context. A contextualised study, it uses the economic development Theory of Globalisation in order to interpret the data, with particular emphasis on social and cultural factors determine economic condition, communication and its significance in global world and greater technological unification, including globalised accounting. Within the Libyan context, an ideographic methodology is used to develop two case studies. One organisation is examined as a provider of information (General Company for Pipelines), and another, the Industry Secretariat, as a user/ stakeholder organisation. A variety of data collection methods is used, including semi-structured interviews, observations, a small structured questionnaire and document analysis in order to make data triangulation possible. Libya is a developing country with significant differences from developed countries, including the way it makes use of accounting information. At present the accounting profession does not play a vital role in the economic development of the country and current accounting practices are based mainly on government legislation rather than planning and decision-making. This study illustrates the possibility, and even the necessity, for accounting to play a significant role in the development of Libya and other developing countries. Whilst this study demonstrates the importance of an awareness of cultural context in the role of accounting systems, it has focused only on one country, Libya, and two organisations within that country. Consequently, even though developing countries have many similarities, the generalisibility of this study is limited. Wider research of other contexts within Libya and beyond is needed to illuminate further the influence of social and cultural factors, communication and greater technological unification on the practice of accounting. It would be useful to replicate the study in other organisations within Libya and in other developing countries. The use of an economic development theory, while revelatory at one level, limits the interpretation of data. A different theoretical approach, or different research methods, for example, a larger style of survey or a different kind of qualitative study, could provide different or additional insights. This study helps to increase awareness of the role of accounting and its potential contribution to economic development at the macro and micro levels and is a starting point for making a difference in developing countries. It provides a contribution to practical knowledge of the role of accounting in developing countries with special reference to Libya, by identifying issues in the Libyan environment, acknowledging the present of powerful global influences, and pointing the way forward to use accounting in a more significant way. Most previous research in this area has focussed on the suitability of accounting systems in meeting development needs, with little attention being paid to addressing how these systems can be made more useful in decision-making, planning and control. This study acknowledges that the challenge for developing countries, such as Libya, in adopting globalised accounting systems, is to adapt them successfully to their own regulatory, legal, political, cultural and religious setting. This has to be accomplished while still achieving the production and effective use of timely, relevant and accurate accounting information in order to serve the country�s development needs. An assessment of the factors influencing the development and use of accounting systems in developing countries such as Libya is a necessary starting point for achieving these goals. This study provides such an assessment.

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