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QUESTIONING THE UNCRITICAL APPLICATION OF TRANSLATION AND BACK-TRANSLATION METHODOLOGY IN ACCOUNTING: EVIDENCE FROM CHINA

Peipei Pan, Chris Patel, Rajni Mala

DOI: 10.22495/cocv12i4c4p6

Abstract

The ‘critical bite’ in this paper lies in providing evidence to challenge the continued and uncritical application of translation and back-translation methodology by the global standard setters and researchers. We applied a within-subject experimental design to examine the influence of translation and back-translation methodology on subjects’ judgments on the key conception of control when preparing consolidated financial reports. Semi-structured follow-up interviews were also conducted with randomly selected participants in the experiment. China provides a particularly appropriate national context for this study because Simplified Chinese is one of the most complex languages. Importantly, control, as the consolidation criterion, may be linked to the ‘invisible power’ of the Chinese government’s authority in the process of social control. The results show that subjects made inconsistent judgments on control in the research instrument in English and the same instrument translated into Simplified Chinese. Additionally, subjects expressed a preference for the legalistic approach, which concentrates on providing specific quantitative criteria and requires little exercise of preparers’ judgments. We suggest that the global accounting standard setters and accounting researchers may consider developing more holistic methodologies for translation. Possible Anglo-American biases, simplistic assumptions and marketing claims by the global accounting standard setters need to be critically examined.

Keywords: Global convergence, Translation, Back-translation, China, Judgment

How to cite this paper: Pan, P., Patel, C., & Mala, R. (2015). Questioning the uncritical application of translation and back-translation methodology in accounting: Evidence from China. Corporate Ownership & Control, 12(4-4), 480-492. http://doi.org/10.22495/cocv12i4c4p6

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