Purpose - This paper provides an understanding of how accounting systems have changed across four distinct periods of hegemonic leadership in China.
Design/methodology/approach - Using Gramsci’s concept of hegemony, periods of leadership and accounting change throughout Chinese history are examined, including the Confucian tradition, the rise of the socialist system followed by the Cultural Revolution under the Maoist era, and the move towards the socialist-market system in the Dengist era.
Findings - This paper shows how political leaders in these different time periods effectively achieved leadership by destroying an existing hegemony, creating a new ideology, and implanting this into people’s daily lives in order to successfully mobilise their ideological systems. Consistent with changes in leadership, Chinese accounting systems are shown to have responded to hegemonic shifts across these periods.
Originality/value - This paper contributes to understandings of Gramsci’s concept of hegemony, explanations of, and motivations for, accounting change, and provides an insight into the evolution of accounting systems throughout time in the context of China.