Bringing together local and metropolitan approaches in Pacific research

Type Journal Article - Pacific Accounting Review
Title Bringing together local and metropolitan approaches in Pacific research
Publication (Day/Month/Year) 2009
Publisher Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Protocols that should apply for research in Pacific settings are a current topic of debate. A significant theme is that such research is cross?cultural and entails integrating local and metropolitan research approaches. This paper aims to take up this theme.


A current Pacific Health Research Framework devised for use in Aotearoa New Zealand is appraised, using results of two case projects, which took place in about 1980 – a population census and oral history project – in what is now the Republic of Palau in the Western Caroline Islands. In each study, Palauan and social scientific research methods and protocols were adapted in order to ensure that indigenous expectations and world?views were represented.


The methods and protocols used in the two Palau studies reflect elements in the framework that is appraised. Apparent, even at the time, was that the locally designed census raised issues of whether metropolitan occupation categories appropriately account for economic production in ways reflecting Palauan understandings. This contrasted with inferences available from a parallel analysis using International Labour Organisation (ILO) census categories of a metropolitan nature. The oral history project raised similar issues. The framework is useful for researchers working in Pacific settings.


The paper notes that the ILO categories are still in use nearly 30 years later. This poses such questions as: how can international and local researchers better record and analyse the monetary and non?monetary productivity of Pacific nations, given the size of their so?called “subsistence” economies? It is also noted that the current system of national accounts protocols recognises the informal economy as a subsector within the household sector economy; and suggests that, as so many of the world's peoples depend on this informal economy, the worldwide challenge is to define the sector and subsector and to design tools for data collection and analysis that capture these activities and support comparative studies. Furthermore, that such a challenge requires genuine cross?cultural research in which local and metropolitan approaches are integrated.