The critical factors in the establishment of a sustainable accountancy profession in fragile states
: Timor‐Leste ‐ a case study.

    Student thesis: Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) - CDU


    This thesis identifies the critical factors in the establishment of a sustainable accountancy profession in fragile states using Timor‐Leste as a case study. The World Bank and other donors assess the sustainability of countries professional accountancy organisations (PAOs) using compliance with the membership obligations of the International Federation of Accountants (IFAC) as a template.

    This study shows a flawed template as developing countries PAOs, members of IFAC since its creation in 1977, are in 2021 non‐compliant. What prospect do fragile states have to achieve sustainability when developing countries with decades to build sustainable PAOs have failed to do so?

    It is contended that the IFAC membership obligations, which are used as measures of sustainability, have been distilled in countries with well‐established economies, institutions and systems of governance are unsuitable assessment measures for developing countries, and for fragile states, where the foundations, taken for granted by the developed world, are under‐developed or nonexistent.

    The enquiry examined the World Bank assessments of seventeen developing countries to identify compliance and the reasons for non‐compliance with IFAC PAO membership obligations. With no PAO in Timor‐Leste, a fragile state, the strength of the accountancy profession was determined by interviewing those working as accountants or employing accountants and educational providers across all sectors of the economy.

    Analysis of compliance failures of the developing countries and the lack of professional foundations in Timor‐Leste identified a common need for the creation of an institutional framework from the bottom up comprising the social, cultural, human, financial, built, natural and political capitals operating in well‐balanced harmony.

    This study concluded that imposing standards from the top without an understanding of the state of development of the institutional framework and the growth needed to create and sustain it will not achieve an accountancy profession.

    Date of Award2022
    Original languageEnglish
    SupervisorRuth Wallace (Supervisor), Dennis Shoesmith (Supervisor) & Ukwatte Jalathge Sarath Lal (Supervisor)

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