Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to examine how the construct of ethnicity can best be determined for empirical analysis in accounting research, particularly in the Pacific region. Design/methodology/approach – This paper reviews relevant sociological and accounting literature. In addition, it presents the results of a case study where “first language” was used as a proxy for ethnicity. Originality/value – In the context of accounting research, the value of this study is its challenge to the notions that culture and ethnicity are not only homogenous but interchangeable and to offer a reflection on how ethnicity can be determined. Findings – The results of the literature review present six different research approaches towards determining ethnicity. Furthermore, it is found that “first language” was a justifiable determinant of ethnicity in an accounting education study. Research limitations/implications – The determination of reliable and valid proxies for ethnicity in accounting research is important for researchers, including those whose objective is to associate ethnicity with learning and teaching outcomes, accounting and financial reporting activities or behaviours.
- Accounting research
- First language