Wenjun Wen defended his thesis “Rethinking Accounting Professionalisation in China: A Study of the Development of the Chinese Public Accounting Profession since the ‘Reform and Opening-up’” on 25 November 2021. Below you can learn more about Wenjun and his research, described in his own words.
After I completed my master degree in Accounting and Management Control at LUSEM in 2013, I started to practice as an auditor at Deloitte China. My practicing experience enabled me to see in a direct way the tremendous value accounting and auditing brought to society. I felt the strong need to develop a deeper theoretical understanding of accounting and auditing. This need, combined with my dream of pursuing a PhD degree since I was a kid, motivated me to make one of the best decisions in my life: to apply for the PhD programme at LUSEM.
At the initial stage of my PhD studies, I was given the opportunity to independently explore the broad field of accounting and auditing research. Although my thesis is about the development of the Chinese public accounting profession, this was actually not what I had in mind when I started. Indeed, like many others, it was quite a turmoil that my mind had gone through before I was able to clearly articulate a research project with potential for the advancement of knowledge. In this process, my thesis supervisors played a critical role in helping me to stay on track and, most importantly, to think through what was important and what was not. Slowly but steadily, my study on accounting professionalisation in China took shape.
My thesis advances an interaction perspective on accounting professionalisation in China since the country’s “Reform and Opening-up” in 1978. More specifically, drawing on previously unaccessed archive materials and a series of interviews with representatives of the Chinese public accounting profession, my thesis examines the interactions between key domestic and international actors involved in and the impact of such interactions on the process of accounting professionalisation in China over time. My thesis demonstrates that, through interactions, actors collectively construct an evolving consensus on the institutional arrangements that are central to two key aspects of accounting professionalisation in China: the organisation of the professional domain and the practice of professionals within the professional domain. In contrast to the current, established hegemony representations, neither the Chinese state nor the Big Four accounting firms were found to be fully capable of dominating the process of accounting professionalisation in China. The process is more complicated than that recognised in prior studies, involving the ongoing interactions between the Chinese state, the Big Four accounting firms and other actors including, most significantly, the Chinese Institute of Certified Public Accountants (CICPA). The interactions between these actors are relevant for the identity construction of individual practitioners. In doing so, my thesis provides more nuanced insights that help to deepen our understanding of accounting professionalisation in China. It will also inform those involved with the development of the public accounting professions in other developing countries.
Looking back, the past few years of my PhD studies have been incredibly intense, inspiring and rewarding. I have learned how to think critically and collaborate with colleagues. I am grateful for having had the privilege to devote myself to research and enjoy the pedagogical moments as a guest lecturer in master programmes. The completion of my thesis marks the end of a very special period of time in my life. Now I am striving for a career in academia to continue to conduct accounting and auditing research that is relevant not only to the scholarly circle but also to the wider society.