Purpose - The aim of the paper is to argue that accounting practices in colonial systems of government can help to construct the identity and "competency" of colonised communities. Design/methodology/approach - The approach was a historical analysis of the colonial political and economic policies of the USA in the Philippines from 1898 to 1924. The role of accounting practices was demonstrated by focusing on the case of the Philippine National Bank from 1916 to 1924. The bank was created by a wholly-Filipino Legislature when Americans were actively promoting "home rule" by the Filipinos as a prelude to independence. Using Weber's theoretical distinction between modern and traditional societies, primary documents on the bank and secondary references of the policies of the USA during the period of study were examined. Findings - It was found that the Americans used controls over government moneys to express their modernity, efficiency and goodness, while the Filipinos resisted them to perpetuate traditional social arrangements in the context of a "modern" Philippine state. The controls "failed" under the stress of such tensions. The Americans concluded that the Filipinos were unable to manage government moneys "properly", thus denying them their independence. Research limitations/implications - Weber's theorization of traditional and modern societies should be applied to understand interactions between coloniser and colonised in cases other than the Philippines. Originality/value - This paper will be valuable to academics and policy makers because it shows that accounting need not be an active agent by colonisers/administrators to appropriate spoils from its colony.
- United States of America