The social consequences of control: accounting for indentured labour in Fiji 1879-1920

Sharma, Umesh and Irvine, Helen,(2016), The social consequences of control: accounting for indentured labour in Fiji 1879-1920. , Qualitative Research in Accounting & Management, UNSPECIFIED

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Purpose – This is a study of the social consequences of accounting controls over labour. This paper aims to examine the system of tasking used to control Indian indentured workers in the historical context of Fijian sugar plantations during the British colonial period from 1879 to 1920. Design/methodology/approach – Archival data consisting of documents from the Colonial Secretary’s Office, reports and related literature on Indian indentured labour were accessed from the National Archives of Fiji. In addition, documented accounts of the experiences of indentured labourers over the period of the study gave voice to the social costs of the indenture system, highlighting the social impact of accounting control systems. Findings – Accounting and management controls were developed to extract surplus value from Indian labour. The practice of tasking was implemented in a plantation structure where indentured labourers were controlled hierarchically. This resulted in their exploitation and consequent economic, social and racial marginalisation. Research limitations/implications – Like all historical research, our interpretation is limited by the availability of archival documents and the theoretical framework chosen to examine these documents. Practical implications – The study promotes a better understanding of the practice and impact of accounting controls within a particular institutional setting, in this case the British colony of Fiji. Social implications – By highlighting the social implications of accounting controls in their historical context, we alert corporations, government policy makers, accountants and workers to the socially damaging effects of exploitive management control systems. Originality/value – The paper contributes to the growing body of literature highlighting the social effects of accounting control systems. It exposes the social costs borne by indentured workers employed on Fijian sugar plantations.
Keywords : Fiji, Sugar industry, Accounting control, Accounting for labour, Indentured workers, Tasking, UNSPECIFIED
Journal or Publication Title: Qualitative Research in Accounting & Management
Volume: 13
Number: 2
Item Type: Article
Subjects: Akuntansi
Depositing User: Gunawan Gunawan
Date Deposited: 30 Dec 2019 07:30
Last Modified: 30 Dec 2019 07:30

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