Postcolonial hybridity, diaspora and accountancy : evidence from Sierra Leonean chartered and aspiring accountants

Kaifala, Gabriel Bamie and Gallhofer, Sonja and Milner, Margaret and Paisey, Catriona (2019) Postcolonial hybridity, diaspora and accountancy : evidence from Sierra Leonean chartered and aspiring accountants. Accounting, Auditing and Accountability Journal, 32 (7). pp. 2114-2141. ISSN 0951-3574 (

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Purpose: The purpose of this paper is to explore perceptions and lived experiences of Sierra Leonean chartered and aspiring accountants, vis-à-vis their professional identity with a particular focus on two elements of postcolonial theory, hybridity and diaspora. Design/methodology/approach: A qualitative methodological framework was employed. Semi-structured interviews were conducted with 18 participants about their perceptions of their professional identity and their professional experiences both within and outside Sierra Leone. Findings: The current professionalisation process is conceptualised as a postcolonial third space where hybrid professional accountants are constructed. Professional hybridity blurs the local/global praxis being positioned as both local and global accountants. Participants experience difficulty "fitting into" the local accountancy context as a consequence of their hybridisation. As such, a diaspora effect is induced which often culminates in emigration to advanced countries. The paper concludes that although the current model engenders emancipatory social movements for individuals through hybridity and diaspora, it is nonetheless counterproductive for Sierra Leone's economic development and the local profession in particular. Research limitations/implications: This study has significant implications for understanding how the intervention of global professional bodies in developing countries shapes the professionalisation process as well as perceptions and lived experiences of chartered and aspiring accountants in these countries. Originality/value: While extant literature implicates the legacies of colonialism/imperialism on the institutional development of accountancy (represented by recognised professional bodies), this paper employs the critical lens of postcolonial theory to conceptualise the lived experiences of individuals who are directly impacted by such institutional arrangements.