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The power of the lens: A comparative analysis of two views of the Fiji Development Bank


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  • Helen Irvine
  • Hemant Deo
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    Purpose – The way theory is used and developed in qualitative research has been a controversial issue, since theory provides a filter through which qualitative data are interpreted, and the “story” is told. This paper aims to present a study of the Fiji Development Bank (FDB) that demonstrates the impact a different theoretical lens has on the selection and interpretation of events, the story that is produced, and the unique view of the role of accounting within its social context. Design/methodology/approach – This paper examines two possible interpretations of the FDB's role under the magnifying glass of Llewellyn's five levels of theorising and the world-view of the researchers. Findings – An analysis of the use of theory and the level of theorising brings to light the difference theory makes to the story that unfolds. On the one hand, accounting is seen as a tool of a repressive system, an example of the outworking of a grand theory, and on the other hand, while no grand theory is overtly employed, the FDB is viewed as a unifying catalyst for the coexistence of two apparently contradictory social institutions. Research limitations/implications – This interpretation of the role and effect of theory in qualitative research is unique and contestable, but forms part of the debate that is a necessary part of the advancement of academic knowledge. Originality/value – Llewellyn's claim that higher level theory develops from lower levels of theorising is challenged, and the assertion is made that grand theory is employed not as the culmination of a theoretical hierarchy, but because of the presence of a preconceived world-view which informs the choice of theory at every level.

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    Bibliographic Info

    Article provided by Emerald Group Publishing in its journal Accounting, Auditing & Accountability Journal.

    Volume (Year): 19 (2006)
    Issue (Month): 2 (February)
    Pages: 205-227

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    Handle: RePEc:eme:aaajpp:v:19:y:2006:i:2:p:205-227

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    Postal: Emerald Group Publishing, Howard House, Wagon Lane, Bingley, BD16 1WA, UK

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    Keywords: Accounting theory; Banks; Fiji; Qualitative research;


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    1. Tomkins, Cyril & Groves, Roger, 1983. "The everyday accountant and researching his reality," Accounting, Organizations and Society, Elsevier, vol. 8(4), pages 361-374, October.
    2. Hopwood, Anthony G., 1983. "On trying to study accounting in the contexts in which it operates," Accounting, Organizations and Society, Elsevier, vol. 8(2-3), pages 287-305, May.
    3. anonymous, 1984. "Reserve Bank Annual Report," Reserve Bank of New Zealand Bulletin, Reserve Bank of New Zealand, vol. 47, august.
    4. William G. Ouchi, 1979. "A Conceptual Framework for the Design of Organizational Control Mechanisms," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 25(9), pages 833-848, September.
    5. Tomkins, Cyril & Groves, Roger, 1983. ""The everyday accountant and researching his reality": Further thoughts," Accounting, Organizations and Society, Elsevier, vol. 8(4), pages 407-415, October.
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    Cited by:
    1. Cassandra Seow-Ling Yee & Setsuo Otsuka & Kieran James & Jenny Kwai-Sim Leung, 2008. "Japanese culture and budgeting: A review of the literature and a limited pilot study to illustrate the research agenda," Managerial Auditing Journal, Emerald Group Publishing, vol. 23(9), pages 873-899, November.
    2. Hemant Deo & Helen Irvine, 2006. "Power and knowledge in the Agricultural Lending Division of the Fiji Development Bank," Asian Review of Accounting, Emerald Group Publishing, vol. 14(1), pages 66-82, July.


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