Philosophical Debate to Study the Development of Federal Government Accounting in Islamic Republic of Pakistan

Abstract: 
This paper discusses important philosophical issues to be taken into consideration for conducting government accounting research in Islamic Republic of Pakistan. This paper will help novice researchers in the field of accounting to understand the basic philosophical paradigms and their implication in conducting accounting research and aims at developing knowledge and gives an understanding the development of accounting. The paper has discussed accounting research from the social science perspective and categorized it as normal science. The ontological and epistemological assumptions favour the implication of institutional theories which discuss accounting development in its context. This suits a paradigm of social constructionism which value the role of people in developing accounting norms in societies.
Main Article: 

Introduction

Science is built on previous knowledge, which Kuhn had named as normal science; has been corrected and continued to develop over centuries. According to Kuhn (1996, pp1-2), “scientific development becomes the piecemeal process by which these items have been added, singly or in combination, to the ever growing stockpile that constitutes scientific technique and knowledge”. Natural scientists are observing the natural world and try to describe and provide explanation(s) to what they see. This may result into universal scientific laws. Following these laws, scientists can produce precise results.

The social sciences study human behaviour and its relationships to its social environment. Human behaviour is unpredictable; therefore, it is very difficult to develop universal laws which may describe human behaviour. These two fields of sciences (natural science and social science) have similarities and also differences (kitao and Kitao, 2002) which are out of the scope of this paper. This paper focused on social sciences to discuss the philosophical and methodological choices to study the government accounting in Pakistan.

Since long, accounting researchers have been confronted with philosophical and methodological controversies. There is a range of divergent; if not mutually exclusive; choices which lead to fundamentally different research strategies and have the possibility of producing different outcomes (Blaikie, 2007, 1993). In the field of philosophy of science, there is a long list of literature discussing these paradigmatic disputes, their relevance to accounting research, and the nature and differences between various philosophical and theoretical paradigms. According to Kuhn (1996), paradigm is some accepted examples of actual scientific practice which provide models from which spring particular coherent traditions of scientific research. Each of these paradigms has its pioneers, its followers and critics.

“No natural science history can be interpreted in the absence of at least some implicit body of intertwined theoretical and methodological belief that permits selection, evaluation, and criticism” (Kuhn, 1996, p16).

For a theory to be accepted as a paradigm must seem better than prevailing theories, not necessarily explain all factors which it taken into account. There are also different methods of social inquiry and accepted in the social sciences. It is very difficult, if not impossible, task to grip with these range and diversified literature. Therefore, adopting one paradigm or theoretical perspective and following it as a guideline is one solution. The other solution is to be eclectic combining various approaches. But there is a need for more sophisticated solutions to investigate about the complex (present age) social phenomena which are posing considerable challenges (problems) for both experienced and novice social science researchers. For instance, the development of accounting practices at the federal government in Pakistan. The selection of particular paradigm to investigate about the selected phenomenon is important because this will enable me to do this research more effectively by pursuing selected phenomena in far more detail, selecting and designing special equipments to do that research, and employing that design more stubbornly and systematically than others paradigm can do it. It will also make the data collection, theory articulation, and other research activities highly directed, which is also the purpose of the paradigm.

While choosing a preferable philosophical and methodological paradigm; accounting researchers are facing a number of fundamental questions. Some of these questions are related to the philosophical issues while others are about the practical aspects of understanding accounting research. Some of these questions are: What is science? What kind of science is social science? Can the methods of the natural sciences be used in the social sciences? What are the appropriate methods of the natural sciences? What is the nature of reality to be investigated? How can knowledge of this reality be obtained? What kind of research questions can be asked? Where does research begin? What does theory look like? What is the relation between lay language and technical language? What is the relation between the researcher and the researched? What has to be done to make research objective, unbiased and valid? (Blaikie, 1993).

Background of the Study

The management and control of public sector organizations have been considerably changing over last few decades under the agenda of ‘New Public Management (NPM)’ reforms (1998, Broadbent and Guthrie, 2008, Barton, 2009, Hood and Peters, 2004, Hood, 1995). There is a growing need for fundamental changes in the way public sector organizations are structured and managed (Barzelay and Armajani, 1992, Osborne and Gaebler, 1992, Lapsley, 2009). The successive governments are, therefore, under pressure to modernize their public sector (English and Skærbæk, 2007). The NPM reforms which basically focused on financial aspects of public sector organizations has been labelled ‘New Public Financial Management (NPFM)’. The idea under the NPFM is that public sector can be managed like the private sector, and, therefore, can be made financially result-oriented.

It is important to understand the differences between the private and the public sector. The two differences seem relevant while investigating federal government accounting in Pakistan. First, the public sector cannot work like the market which is based on the concept of profitability, because the governments have to provide public goods which cannot be financed by the private sector. Second, public sector working in democracies, specifically in coalitional governments like Pakistan, is always under ‘push and pulls’ mechanism within government (coalitional government) and between the ‘opposition and position holders’. The opposition and the coalition parties criticize the policies of position holders (government). This process can also emerge into sophisticated accounting policies which may be compatible with the country’s financial and social needs based on its cost and benefit analysis. Since the government accounting is an integrated part of government financial operations in larger organizational, political, economic, and social context, therefore governments have to take decisions to choose an accounting system from the available alternatives.

Although the countries are moving in the same direction in search for good governance, there may be substantial elements of diversity in the pace, nature and the extent of accounting reforms across countries including Pakistan. Therefore, this research project will try to explore “To what extent are NPFM (i.e. government accounting) ideas transferred in the Pakistani context?”

This PhD research project aims to develop knowledge about the central government accounting system in Pakistan by applying the lenses of institutional theories (Järvinen, 2006, Burns and Scapens, 2000, Broadbent and Guthrie, 2008, DiMaggio and Powell, 1983, Meyer and Rowan, 1977). The institutional perspectives help to understand the interaction between organization and the context in which the organization operates to find convincing answers to the research questions. My research questions are, therefore, connected to give understanding to the federal government accounting in Pakistan. I will do this by describing and analyzing the development of central government accounting in Pakistan by asking the following research questions.

•     What kind of central government accounting systems has been in use in Pakistan during the past 60 years?

•     What are the forces for introducing changes in central government accounting in Pakistan?

•     What do the changes consist of and how are the changes implemented in the central government accounting in Pakistan?

Literature Review

Institutional theorists support the arguments that adoption of accounting changes in a given society are guided by norms, culture, and cognitive factors (Baxter and Chua, 1998, Scott, 2003). These institutional theories argue that organizations within a society are becoming similar to other institutions within their external institutional environment, a process which DiMaggio and Powell (1983) called institutional isomorphism:

“isomorphism is a constraining process that forces one unit in a population to resemble other units that face the same set of environmental conditions” (p. 149).

In this process, the continuous reframing of institutional beliefs emerges as rules which are widely accepted as taken-for-granted, defining the world and behaviors both within and outside a given organization. These taken-for-granted assumptions frame public opinion, laws and constituents’ views (Meyer and Rowan, 1977, Meyer and Rown, 1991, Scott, 1987).

Scott (2001) identified and discussed several key ideas, calling them regulative, normative and cultural cognitive pillars of new institutional sociology. Each of Scott’s “pillars” is associated with DiMaggio and Powell’s characterization of coercive, normative and mimetic institutional isomorphism. The regulative pillar of Scott (2001) consists of a framework based on rules which may vary from informal to formal coercive systems. When powerful organizations exercise power or authority over weak organizations, coercive isomorphism occurs (Scott, 1987, 2003). The state and other regulatory institutions impose sanctions through laws in order to enhance convergence. The normative pillar of Scott (2001) is based on social obligations. Organizational goals and the means to attain these goals are defined according to the social commitments. The social and moral legitimacy is considered binding in normative isomorphism.

According to Scott (2001), the cultural cognitive pillar is based on shared conceptions of social reality that structure public beliefs and their logics of action that proceed from specific beliefs. The related isomorphism in the DiMaggio-Powell framework is mimetic which is “taken-for-granted understandings, often unconscious, give structure, meaning and predictability to human life”(Hopper and Major, 2007) . A third article mimetic isomorphism is motivated by replication and imitation. Organizations imitate other successful organizations during uncertainties in order to avoid criticism for their activities. They adopt practices and methods having general cultural support (Flingstein, 1985, Flingstein, 1991, Covaleski and Dirsmith, 1988).

According to institutional theorists, informal and formal organizational structures coexist in uneasy tension. These informal and formal organizational structures exist because of different interests and interest groups that define these structures. The interest levels of various stakeholders vary in terms of importance while interest groups also vary in terms of their strengths and influence which may have different level of potential in defining informal and formal organizational structures. These differences in interests and interests groups result into different institutional pressures which may force organizations to adopt practices irrelevant to their everyday actions. As a result these practices may differ from formal organizational structures/rules (regulations) which scholars have termed as loosely or totally decoupled operational systems (Meyer and Rowan, 1977, 1991, Carruthers, 1995).

Accounting research is going through a period of reconceptualization the scholarly explanations of how accounting practices, systems and techniques developed (Dillard et al., 2004). Accordingly, accounting scholars feel pressure to refocus their investigations and to gain better understanding of how accounting practices and systems are influenced by “multiplicity of agents, agencies, institutions and processes” (Miller, 1994, p1). The present study affirms this objective to develop a framework for giving a better understanding to change processes, accounting practices and institutions by incorporating theoretical perspectives based on institutional theory.

Institutional theory-based research (Zucker, 1987, 1977) is becoming the dominant theoretical research in organizational theory. Institutional theory has insights from social theory which discusses development of the taken-for-granted assumptions, values and beliefs providing a basis or foundation for organizational practices and characteristics. Institutional theory-based accounting research has provided useful insights into various accounting practices within organizations. These insights emphasize the importance of the social, cultural and organizational environment in shaping and reshaping accounting practices; issues of legitimacy through rationalization of accounting practices; and the decoupling of rationalized accounting practices from actual administrative and technical processes.

According to Dacin et al., (2002, p45), institutional theory is a “vibrant theory that has been synthesized and contrasted with a number of other approaches,” but, as other researchers note, these theories are not without limitations (Abernethy and Chua, 1996, DiMaggio, 1988). The processes through which institutional practices are established, changed and deinstitutionalized have been given little consideration in the previous research. The political and socio-economic context that provides the framework in which organizational practices emerged, are transposed and decomposed also have been given little attention (Dillard et al., 2004). Studying a particular organization and its practices as outcome (very concrete) or studying the practices within an organization at a given point of time will constrain and limit the nature of institutionalized beliefs and values. This will also undervalue the institutional dynamics or the importance of human agency associated with change process; because institutionalization is not a static or one time activity, instead it is a process.

Philosophical Issues

The issues of connecting data and theory have been debated for centuries because failure to give understanding to the philosophical issues can gravely affect the quality of research (Yin, 2009). The understanding of the philosophical issues is, therefore, of central importance in this research. In this section, I will shed light on the main philosophical positions that may relate to the proposed project and will try to answer the question, how can philosophical factors affect the proposed research?

The relevance of the philosophical discussion in the proposed project is three-fold. First, it can help me clarify research design that will be employed to investigate the proposed issue and answer the basic questions of the study. Second, the knowledge of philosophy will help me recognize which research designs will work and which will not to investigate about the central government accounting in Pakistan. In other words, it will provide me with knowledge to make the decision and choose specific research design. Third, understanding the philosophical issues will help me identify, and even create, research designs that may be outside the existing literature and my past experience. It may also suggest how to adapt research designs according to the constraints of different subject or knowledge structures (Easterby-Smith et al., 2002).

Any kind of research can be based on certain fundamental philosophical and theoretical assumptions, and there is no such thing as totally objective or value free investigation (Hopper and Powell, 1985). Therefore, the researchers should recognize and assess every piece of research, and should ensure that these are consistent with their personal beliefs. They need to assess and analyze their own values and believes about the nature of society and the social sciences.

Kuhn (1996) differentiated between two type of sciences i.e. “normal science” and “revolutionary science”. “Normal science is highly regimented work under a paradigm. It aims to extend and articulated the paradigm, not to test it, for the paradigm defines the research tradition, the scientific life, of a particular discipline and its practitioners” (Nickles, 2003, p.1). When the equipments designed for the purpose of normal research fails to produce the anticipated results; it leads to an extraordinary investigation giving emergence to new commitments providing new basis for scientific practice. “The extraordinary episodes in which that shift of professional commitments occurs are the ones known in this eassy as scientific revolutions” (Kuhn, 1996, p6).

According to Kuhn, scientists and researcher use existing theories to refine and extend knowledge. They apply a logical and rational application of scientific methods to study the world and they, very occasionally, deviate from the existing patterns and theories. But the major inventions in this world have resulted from independent and creative thinking; which goes outside the boundaries of existing ideas. This leads to a ‘scientific revolution’ which provides new theories, and may alter the way through which people see the world. It is called science because it is also based on facts and according to Chalmers (1999, pxx), “what is so special about science is that it is derived from the facts, rather than being based on personal opinion”. It is based on what we can see, hear and touch rather than on personal opinions or speculations. The distinctive feature of scientific knowledge is that it is derived from the facts of experience and can only be sanctioned in a carefully and highly qualified form, if it is to be sanctioned at all.

Hopper and Powell (1985) have discussed ‘objective-subjective’ dimensions of reality, one end emphasizing the objective nature of reality, knowledge and human behavior while the other end has stressed their subjective aspects. The reasons for selecting social constructionism paradigm to give understanding to the central government accounting in Pakistan are discussed below.

Positivism versus social constructionism

The two contrasting views of how social science research should be conducted are positivism and social constructionism (Easterby-Smith et al., 2002). These two views have differed concerning ontology and epistemology. Ontology is a basic assumption about the nature of reality. Epistemology deals with what is accepted as valid knowledge. It is the general set of assumptions concerning the best way of inquiry into the nature of the world.

There is general consensus among positivism and social constructionism researchers to critically evaluate research through certain criteria. The concepts of reliability, validity and generalisability provide a basic framework for evaluating traditional positivist/quantitative research. The social constructionism researchers require the criteria of credibility, transferability, dependability and confirmability for evaluating the quality of research; which is somehow linked with the criteria of internal validity, external validity, reliability and objectivity used in conventional quantitative inquiry.

Positivistic Paradigm

The positivistic paradigm assumes that the social world exists externally, and its properties should be measured through the objective methods rather than being inferred subjectively through sensation, reflection or intuition. Riahi-Belkaoui (2004, p.305) called it ‘nomothesis’. Traditionally, social scientists have been warned to stay away from those they study in order to maintain objectivity. Objectivity is essential for all good research which suggests a naive and inhuman version of vulgar positivism. “Without it, the only reason the reader of the research might have for accepting the conclusions of the investigator would be an authoritarian respect for the person of the author” (Patton, 2002, pp93-94).

The positivist paradigm is based on two assumptions. The first ontological assumption is that reality is external and objective, which means that reality is universal and will remain the same irrespective of the context. For example, the social phenomenon of ‘divorce’ will be same in Norway and Pakistan. It will have similar meanings and implications like oxygen and water irrespective of the context. The second epistemological assumption is that knowledge is only significant if it is based on observations of this external reality (Easterby-Smith et al., 2002). The choice of what to study and how to study it can be determined by the objective criteria rather than by human beliefs and interests. According to positivism, the aim of social science is to indentify causal explanations and fundamental laws explain regularities in the social behavior of humans (Lakovleva, 2007). Positivist researchers are of the view that since reality is external, therefore, these can be studied through standard universal laws irrespective of varying institutional environments. The positivists are, therefore, trying to delimit and fragment reality into objective, measurable categories that can be employed to wider similar circumstances (Winter, 2000, Golafshani, 2003) to enhance reliability and validity. According to Winter (2000), reliability and validity are of central importance in positivist paradigm.

According to the positivists point of view that central government accounting (reality) is universal objective and can be investigated by using universal laws. For instance, the central government accounting might be similar at the central government level in Norway and Pakistan which can be investigated by standard (universal) research tools/method irrespective of its different institutional environments, cultures, languages, level of educations, etc. For this purpose, sufficient sample sizes must be selected in order to make valid generalizations about the regularities found in human social behavior and detected regularities should be explored in several contexts.

Research evaluation criteria in positivist approach

The concepts of reliability, validity and generalizabilty are most often used for testing or evaluating positivist/quantitative research. The most important issue in quantitative research is therefore to ensure reliability, internal validity and external validity (generalizability). The positivist researchers consider the procedures, such as, a diary or log book or other forms of communication with colleagues advocated by interpretetivist researchers as superfluous in the light of far-reaching codification of quantitative methods.

Reliability

Reliability is all about replicability or repeatability of results or observations (Golafshani, 2003). Croker and Algina (1986) define reliability as the extent to which results are consistent over time. In other words, an accurate representation of the population under investigation is referred to as reliability and if the findings of a study have the capability to be replicated under similar methodical conditions, in this case the research instrument utilized will be considered as reliable. Salkind (2009) argues that something which is reliable will perform similarly in the future the way it has performed in the past. A reliable test of a particular behaviour thus has the ability to produce the same outcome on measuring the same phenomenon more than once.

According to Kirk and Miller (1986), reliability in quantitative research can be achieved if (1) a measurement given repeatedly remains the same, (2) a measurement over time remains stable; and (3) measurements within a given time period remain similar. Charles (1995) contends that consistency with which items of a questionnaire are responded or individual scores remain reasonably the same may be determined by using the method of test-retest at two different times. An instrument which possesses this attribute is considered to be stable. If a researcher deals with a stable instrument, then the results in this case should be similar. If stability of a measure is higher, it is indicative of the high degree of stability that in turn indicates that the results are repeatable.

Validity

Validity refers to the degree to which research truly measures what it was meant to measure or how truthful the research results are (Zikmund, 1997, Cavana et al., 2001). Wainer and Braun (1988) describe the validity in quantitative research as construct validity. The construct is the initial concept, notion, question or hypothesis that determines which data is to be gathered and how it is to be gathered. As far as generalizability is concerned, quantitative researchers seek to extrapolate statistical findings from a specified sample to the wider population.

Problems with positivist criteria

Croker and Algina (1986) highlighted a problem with the test-retest method which can make an instrument, to a certain degree, unreliable. The author contends that test-retest method may sensitize the respondent to the subject matter, and hence influence the responses elicited. The author further argues that it is difficult to ascertain that there was no change in extraneous influences such as an attitude change that has taken place. This may result in a difference in the responses provided. Likewise, Crocker and Algina (1986) contend that when a study participant responds to a set of test items, the score obtained represents only a limited sample of behaviour. As a consequence, the scores may change due to some characteristic of the respondent, which may in turn lead to errors of measurement. Errors of this kind may reduce the accuracy and consistency of the instrument and the test scores.

The researcher may improve the research instrument through repeatability and enhance its internal consistency, and, therefore reliability. However, during that process the investigator may revise or delete the questionnaire items to improve the reliability but this is likely to affect the validity of the instrument.

Wainer and Braun (1988) note that quantitative researchers, usually through the application of a test, actively cause or affect the interplay between construct and data in order to validate their investigation. This way, the involvement of a researcher in the research process might significantly reduce the validity of a test. Additionally, an important part of all research results is based on argumentation and interpretation, which may somehow affect the concept of validity.

Social Constructionism

Social constructionism paradigms see people as social beings who actively interpret the world, and their experiences in this world. It stems from the view that ‘reality’ is not objective and exterior, but is socially constructed, subjective and given meaning by people (Easterby-Smith et al., 2002). Their behavior is understood through their interpretations of events and experiences in their wider social context. Therefore, it is necessary to study the details of the background working behind the reality, and that in some cases; only a unique understanding of the reasons can help to give an appropriate understanding of the phenomenon (Remenyi et al., 1998). The researcher is seen to be a part of the reality, and science is driven by human interest. Social constructionism tries to understand what is happening by focusing on meaning and developing ideas through induction from data (Easterby-Smith et al., 2002).

Social constructivists claim that the social world becomes meaningful through language and social activity. They also claim that the social world is created ("constructed") by human beings. For example, the “Indian caste system" is, therefore, not of the natural kind like the lion or the elephant (or oxygen). It is socially established by humans. The same can be said about all social systems. They have not fallen down from heaven. We are born into "caste systems"; they exist "before" us - in a very objective way. Nonetheless, they are shaped and organized throughout history by human beings .

Social Constructionism criteria of research evaluation

For social constructionism researcher, the most important evaluatory test of any research investigation is its quality. A study based on social constructionism/ Interpretevist view of evaluation helps to understand a particular situation that otherwise is likely to remain enigmatic or confusing (Eisner, 1998).

Interpretevist researchers use the terms credibility, consistency or sometimes dependability as substitutes of the positivist concept of realiability (Clonts, 1992). Lincoln and Guba (1985) use the term dependability in interpretetivist inquiry, which closely matches to the notion of reliability used in quantitative paradigm. They argue that through the use of inquiry audit, the dependability of research may considerably be enhanced. Campbell (1997) contends that for achieving consistency of data the steps of the research need to be verified through examination of certain items like raw data, data reduction products, and process notes.

For ensuring reliability and validity in interpretative research, examining trustworthiness is important, and according to Lincoln and Guba (1985), achieving trustworthiness of a research lies at the heart of traditional ideas of validity and reliability. The authors (Lincoln and Guba, 1985, Lincoln and Denzin, 2008) further argue that the idea of discovering truth through traditional concepts of reliability and validity can better be substituted by the idea of trustworthiness, which stands for defensible findings in which confidence can be established.

Social Constructionism critique of positivist criteria

The concepts of reliability, validity and generalizability are viewed differently by social constructionism researchers who contend that the concepts popular with positivist approach are inadequate. For interpretetivist approach of inquiry, the question of replicability in the results is not a matter of concern, rather precision, credibility, and transferability serve as the vantage points for evaluating the findings of a particular research project (Glesne, 1999).

Interpretetivists argue that situations, in terms of positivist approach, can never be exactly replicated. For them, what emerges in an interview is largely dependent on the researcher’s approach and the specific interviewer-respondent relationship and context. They take the position that a different researcher, or even the same researcher, trying to capture information from the same respondent at a different time or place would not necessarily elicit exactly the same response.

The interpretetivist researcher is skeptical of the traditional concept of validity which rests upon the premise that the phenomenon being investigated possesses reality in an objective sense. These researchers in general view the positivist concept of validity as erroneous and argue that it is inappropriate to assume the existence of one indisputable reality to which all findings must respond.

Regarding generalizability, the interpretetivist researchers opine that it is difficult to generalize findings from a specified sample to the wider population; rather findings can have the ability to be transferred and may have meaning or relevance if applied to other individuals, contexts and situations. Thus interpretetivist approach to social inquiry is concerned with the richness and depth of data instead of universal applicability of findings.

Achieving credibility, transferability and dependability

Golafashani (2003) argues that by enhancing the trustworthiness, more credible and defensible results may be produced which in turn lead to transferability of research findings. They argue that continuous refinement of the sampling and data collection techniques throughout the data collection process increase the credibility, trustworthiness and quality of research. The quality of a research in turn is related to the transferability of the research findings.

Lincoln and Guba, (1985) argue that triangulation is an important strategy for improving the credibility and trustworthiness of research findings. Similarly, Mathison (1988) notes that triangulation is important in order to control bias and establishing credible propositions and argue that traditional positivist techniques are incompatible with this alternate epistemology. Patton (2002) elaborates triangulation as use of several kinds of methods or data, which may strengthen a research study. Creswell (2003) contends that triangulation helps in using different data sources of information by examining evidence from the sources and using it to build a coherent justification for themes. Likewise, Golafashani (2003) argues that reality is always changing and remaining in contact with one strategy in the ever-changing world is not meaningful. Therefore, to capture multiple and diverse realities, multiple methods of searching or gathering data are highly important.

Conclusion

This paper distinguishes between the positivist and social constructionism research paradigms. The paper briefly mentions the philosophical paradigm positivism and the problems associated with positivist ideas of validity, reliability and generalizability and present alternate criteria for research proposed by social constructionist researchers.

The philosophical approach of this study is closer to the social constructionism rather than the positivism paradigm. Detailed interviews with participants and observations will help me to give better understanding to the central government accounting in Pakistan. This approach will facilitate me to incorporate maximum stakeholder perspectives by including complexity of the ‘whole’ situations because I can argue that different observers may have different viewpoints and that, ‘what counts for the truth can vary from place to place and from time to time’ (Easterby-Smith et al., 2002). The choice of social constructionism world view in the proposed study is also rational because Pakistan has a unique institutional setup, culture, level of education, economic, legal and political system. The central government accounting can be explained holistically through institutional lenses which explain the interaction of organization with its environment. The idea is that the central level government accounting in Pakistan is socially constructed which can be understood through the interpretation of individual languages.

According to Browning and Boudes (2005, p.36), “complex environment must be matched with equally complex processing mechanisms.” Therefore, my philosophical assumption about the central government accounting is of two types. First, ontological assumption is based on the fact that central government accounting in Pakistan (reality) is internal and subjective matter i.e. socially constructed, and second, epistemological assumption is that knowledge of central government accounting in Pakistan is only of significance if it is based on discussion with internal participant who are involved in the change process. The nature of reality in my study is socially constructed by the participants involved in the research. It clearly shows that my ontology is social constructionism and epistemology is interpretivist (Cassell et al., 2009) i.e. the researcher interacts with the participants of the study and recognizes the value laden nature of this study (Riahi-Belkaoui, 2004, p317).

Employing multiple methods, such as, observation, interviews and recordings will lead to more credible, trustworthy and diverse construction of realities in my study. Reliability and validity are conceptualized as trustworthiness, rigor and quality in intepretetivist approach to research. The researcher will ensure this by eliminating bias and increasing the researcher’s truthfulness of the propositions about the social phenomenon using triangulation. By employing a multi-method approach, the transferability of the study will be increased. Researcher bias will be minimized by spending enough time in the field and by engaging multiple data collection strategies to corroborate the findings.

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