Global norms and the nation-state: the ''modernisation'' of audit regulations in Kuwait
Item statusRestricted Access
Embargo end date30/11/2021
Neoliberal globalisation is spread through a complex web of polycentric and interdependent powers. These powers advance Western norms and practices, even into non-Western societies with very different cultural traditions. We know little about the processes and application of global norms at the nation-state level, especially norms described as “international best practices”. There is an emerging interest among accounting scholars who have begun to consider the struggles surrounding attempts, at the national level, to standardise their audit oversight systems with those of the US. Prior research has primarily focused on Western states. This thesis aims to complement the emerging debate by considering how and why Kuwait implemented “internationally best” audit regulatory practices. Kuwait provides a new institutional setting for accounting research. The thesis contains interviews with key actors involved in the process of regulatory change in Kuwait, including senior executives in audit firms, the Kuwaiti accountancy body, and different state financial regulators. The theoretical framework is drawn from Pierre Bourdieu’s theory of practice (including his theory of the state) and Terence Halliday and Bruce Carruthers’ theory of recursivity. The thesis finds that the Kuwaiti attempt to modernise audit regulations created a conflict between the newly created regulator and the audit profession, similar to findings in prior accounting research. Uniquely, the thesis finds that the changes produced inter-governmental struggles since Kuwait follows a legalist system of governance as opposed to a corporatist one. Each field employed different strategies to maintain or transform the extant (status quo) order of regulatory arrangements, audit field dynamics, and the hierarchical structures of society. The thesis further examined attempts to institutionalise “international best practice” audit independence technologies: audit rotation and the prohibition of non-audit services. In light of this, the thesis found that local influential auditors drove regulatory manipulation and misconceptions. This thesis concludes that, in the audit regulatory domain, the embedded Western logic of global norms creates a sea of conflicts and confrontations with the indigenous practices and culture of the nation-state.