Accounting, Auditing and Accountability Journal
School of Business and Law
Australian Government Research Training Program (RTP) Scholarship
© 2020, Hui Situ, Carol Tilt, Pi-Shen Seet. Purpose: In a state capitalist country such as China, an important influence on company reporting is the government, which can influence company decision-making. The nature and impact of how the Chinese government uses its symbolic power to promote corporate environmental reporting (CER) have been under-studied, and therefore, this paper aims to address this gap in the literature by investigating the various strategies the Chinese government uses to influence CER and how political ideology plays a key role. Design/methodology/approach: This study uses discourse analysis to examine the annual reports and corporate social responsibility (CSR) reports from seven Chinese companies between 2007 and 2011. And the data analysis presented is informed by Bourdieu's conceptualisation of symbolic power. Findings: The Chinese government, through exercising the symbolic power, manages to build consensus, so that the Chinese government's political ideology becomes the habitus which is deeply embedded in the companies' perception of practices. In China, the government dominates the field and owns the economic capital. In order to accumulate symbolic capital, companies must adhere to political ideology, which helps them maintain and improve their social position and ultimately reward them with more economic capital. The findings show that the CER provided by Chinese companies is a symbolic product of this process. Originality/value: The paper provides contributions around the themes of symbolic power wielded by the government that influence not only state-owned enterprises (SOEs) but also firms in the private sector. This paper also provides an important contribution to understanding, in the context of a strong ideologically based political system (such as China), how political ideology influences companies' decision-making in the field of CER.
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Society and Culture
Individual, economic, organisational, political and social transformation