This study attempts to examine why western accounting was adopted in one Asian country, Japan, and not in another, China, when modern accounting methods were brought to the East during the mid-19th century. The explanation offered is socio-cultural. China was characterized by centralized political power, a society resistant to change, an anti-merchant policy and narrow-based learning. In contrast, Japan had dispersed structures of political power, a society receptive to change, a pro-merchant policy and broad-based learning. In China, the emphasis was to preserve harmony and integration in accord with mainstream Chinese ideology which had created a highly stable and tradition-oriented society. Chinese enterprises that operated within this institutional framework were unlikely to adopt western-style double-entry bookkeeping. In Japan there was no specifically institutionalized anti-capitalist doctrine to prevent the rise of industrialism and the adoption of modern accounting.

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