The Evolution of Bookkeeping in China: Integrating Historical Trends with Western Influences

Authors: Aiken, Maxwell1; Lu, Wei2

Source: Abacus, Volume 34, Number 1, March 1998 , pp. 140-162(23)

Publisher: Wiley-Blackwell

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This article reviews the development of Chinese single-entry bookkeeping, the emergence of Chinese double-entry bookkeeping and evolutionary trends from single entry to double entry. It identifies the invention and basic nature of Chinese double-entry methods which have reflected cultural changes from within the society. Given this historical perspective, conclusions are drawn about the nature of social and economic change in China and the impact of outside cultural influences. Of particular importance to the timing of progress is the primitive form of double entry entitled Three Feet. This had its gestation about the same time as European innovations were occurring in response to economic and cultural changes which sponsored bookkeeping methods as described by Pacioli. A critical question for examination at present is whether cultural evolution in China can yet support complete integration of its own accounting principles and fundamental philosophies with Western accounting methods. This has proved to be difficult in the past.

Keywords: Bookkeeping; China; History; Integration; Western Accounting

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: 1: Professor of Commerce and Deputy Head of School of Business, La Trobe University, 2: Lecturer, Department of Accounting and Finance, Monash University

Publication date: March 1, 1998

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