The role of the professional association in the translation of accrual accounting in the Sri Lankan public sector

Thusitha Dissanayake, Steven Dellaportas

Research output: Journal PublicationArticlepeer-review


Purpose: This study examines accounting reform in the Sri Lankan public sector using an actor–network perspective. The study is particularly concerned with the role of the Institute of Chartered Accountants Sri Lanka (ICASL) in building networks of organisational actors in the diffusion of Sri Lankan Public Sector Accounting Standards (SLPSAS). Design/methodology/approach: The empirical data draws on interviews with key actors to understand the role of ICASL in the diffusion of SLPSAS. Twenty-two semi-structured interviews were conducted with members of ICASL and senior public sector officers. The data were analysed based on the four stages underlying the translation process: problematisation, interessement, enrolment and mobilisation. Findings: The data suggest that ICASL became a lead player in the diffusion of public sector accounting standards because of its superior technical capability. ICASL cultivated a way of thinking about accrual accounting by executing relational influence generated through professional knowledge, and connections with the government and public sector accountants. Research limitations/implications: Findings should be interpreted with caution; data are limited by the subjective interpretation of data. By concentrating on the role of ICASL, the role and influence of other key actors may be overlooked. Originality/value: This study contributes to the literature on how innovations transform accounting practice through the lens of the ICASL. The result builds on evidence explaining why provincial governments and public sector governments were hesitant to adopt SLPSAS despite central government directives.

Original languageEnglish
JournalAccounting, Auditing and Accountability Journal
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 2023
Externally publishedYes


  • Accrual accounting
  • Actor–network theory
  • Professional association
  • Public sector

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Accounting
  • Economics, Econometrics and Finance (miscellaneous)


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