The strategic significance of the CICPA in the making of a Chinese home-grown public accounting profession

Christopher Humphrey, Amanda Sonnerfeldt, Wenjun Wen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This paper provides a detailed, longitudinal study of the role and strategies of the Chinese Institute of Certified Public Accountants (CICPA) in building a Chinese home-grown public accounting profession since the late 1980s. Drawing on previously unaccessed archive materials and a series of interviews with senior representatives of the Chinese public accounting profession, this paper reveals a more nuanced empirical story of professional accounting development in China, in which the CICPA has had more strategic influence than is currently represented in the extant accounting literature. While the CICPA’s position vis-à-vis the state is a fragile one and necessitates on various occasions following specific state requirements and instructions, it has still been able to pursue its strategic intention of securing a nationalistic approach to professional accounting development. This paper analyses the shifting nature of the CICPA’s capacity for agency across three thematic areas of activities, including the CICPA’s efforts to counter the power and influence of the Big Four in China, promote the growth of indigenous accounting firms and support the establishment of the Communist Party branches in accounting firms.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)636-676
Number of pages41
JournalAccounting and Business Research
Issue number6-7
Publication statusPublished - 30 Jun 2021


  • Acounting professionalisation; National professional bodies; CICPA; Big four; Corporatism; China


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