A Weberian model applied to the study of accounting stagnation in late Qing China
The industrialization and commercial expansion that China experienced following foreign intrusion, in 1840, necessitated the modernization of its accounting, but its accounting technology continued to stagnate for more than half a century. Weber's socio-historical model provides a framework for posing the question why indigenous accounting systems persisted even though superior western bookkeeping techniques were available. Weber's framework for the study of the relations of accounting to organizations and society may be divided into two analytic layers: structural conditions of accounting and the historical dynamic arising from the tensions between formal and substantive rationalities. All structural conditions specified in his first analytic layer as necessary for capital accounting were basically satisfied in Qing China. The second layer of Weber's framework is ideational. Rationality is the key concept in Weber's work. Replacing traditional accounting amounted to a direct challenge to substantive rationality of ti ('substance', 'essence') by the formal rationality of yung ('instruments', 'utility').
Accounting, Business & Financial History