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Abstract

This paper introduces action research as a possible new method to reduce the distance between idealism and accounting practice, thus contributing to the accounting literature. The source of this paper is an on-going large research project. The project has three objectives. Firstly, to provide evidence of the utilisation of accounting methods in the Malaya plantation industry from its earliest beginnings through to the introduction of accounting tools such as budgets, leading to the creation of a social and economic underclass in Malaysia. Secondly, to examine the extent to which accounting information provided in the Annual Reports of Malaysian plantation companies is used in determining the wages of plantation workers on the grounds that workers in the plantation industry have been and still are, among the most poorly paid in Malaysia, and perhaps the world. Interestingly, the wages of plantation workers are determined through a negotiation process between the National Union of Plantation Workers and the Malaysian Agricultural Producers Association. This paper draws from this research project and explicates the utilisation of the Action Research methodology in reporting the “lived experiences” of those affected by Management Accounting budgets and demonstrating how the parties to wage negotiation, the employers, union and employees, can better derive value from accounting information provided within the annual reports of Malaysian plantation companies.

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