[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Purpose The paper explores the origins of Scottish chartered accountants and the accounting stereotype as portrayed in popular fiction. It addresses calls for studies of the changing popular representation of the accountant (Hopwood, 1994; Carnegie and Napier, 2010). Design/methodology/approach The paper uses the detective novels of the Scottish chartered accountant Alexander Clark Smith as a lens by which to view competing theories about the origins of Scottish chartered accountants, and to explore the multi-dimensional character of the protagonist, as well as portrayals of other accountants. Findings The novels contribute to our understanding both of the construction of accounting stereotypes and of the social origins of Scottish professional accountants. Smith novels suggest that while working class access to the profession was a reality, so was class division within it. In addition, Smith was ahead of the prevalent professional discourse of his time in creating an accountant protagonist who combines the positive aspects of the traditional stereotype with qualities of a private-eye action-hero, but this may have been incongruent with the image a still emergent accounting profession wished to portray. Originality/value The portrayal of accountants in personal and societal settings at a time of profound social change, as well as the author’s background in the Scottish profession, provide a rich source for the study of social origins of Scottish chartered accountancy during the first half of the twentieth century. Further, Smith’s novels are of a popular genre; as such they merit attention because of their potential to influence the construction of the accounting stereotype(s) within the popular imagination.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Ongoing corporate scandal and audit failure raise serious concerns about the ability of auditors to resist client pressure. Based on a sample of 93 auditors from China and the United Kingdom (U.K.), we analyze the effect of specificity of accounting standard, level of auditor tenure, provision of management advisory services (MAS) and degree of audit market competition on perceptions of auditors' ability to withstand client pressure in audit conflict situations. We draw on cultural differences to explain differences in auditors' perceptions in the respective countries. Our findings are consistent with national cultural characteristics identified in the research literature. We find that U.K. auditors perceive specificity of accounting standards, auditor tenure, MAS and competition as less likely to affect decisions as to whether or not to accept clients' preferred accounting treatments than do their Chinese counterparts. Additionally while Chinese auditors perceive MAS and competition to be significant factors, they perceive accounting standard specificity and auditor tenure to be insignificant. For U.K. auditors, these results are reversed. The results may be relevant to international audit firms operating cross-culturally and seeking to apply common audit procedures or codes of professional conduct in different national settings.
Journal of International Financial Management & Accounting 05/2008; 19(2):161 - 183. · 0.33 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Business risk auditing (BRA) has been much publicised as revolutionary. The essence of the phenomenon, and the actual impact on practice, however, are unclear. This note revisits some pre-BRA interview evidence investigating auditor engagement with business risk. The evidence suggests that, pre-BRA, big-six auditors were already familiar with concepts of business risk although they were uncertain as to how precisely business risk informed the audit process. This suggests that BRA was evolutionary, rather than revolutionary, change and that the engagement of recent international standards with business risk is not significantly different from that of big-six auditors pre-BRA. The BRA era in audit methodology might be conceptualized as one of regressive evolution.
Accounting Forum - Account Forum. 01/2008; 32(2):143-147.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: PublicPrivate Partnerships (PPPs) are an increasingly common mechanism for the renewal of public sector infrastructure, although in the United Kingdom, these have been criticized as representing poor value for money. An inherent assumption of much of this criticism is that a corollary of detriment for the public sector is benefit for the private sector. This paper highlights the difficulty of objectively verifying the many criticisms and assumptions regarding risk and reward associated with PPPs. Public and private sector disclosure policies and systems are analyzed and we conclude that neither sector practices openness and transparency. This results in a democratic accountability deficit in the public sector and a lack of meaningful data being made available to stakeholders in private companies.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: This paper investigates the theme of the role and influence of auditing standards on auditing practice by means of a comparative case study focused on two different standard setting regimes. Specifically, the Canadian and UK standards concerned with the detection and reporting of client illegal acts are considered. Fifteen short vignettes are developed each describing an illegal act and reflecting the distinctive factors highlighted by the respective auditing standards. We find that the regulation of the auditing profession through the mode of auditing standards does have an identifiable impact on auditor behavior. The impact of standards on auditors’ perceptions of their responsibilities in the area of illegal acts is clearer for detection than it is for reporting. Additionally, auditors continue to perceive a clear distinction between fraud and other illegal acts and recognize a higher degree of res-ponsibility for illegal acts involving fraud than for others. At the other end of the spectrum auditors do recognize some degree of responsibility in connection with illegalities that do not fall within the ambit of auditing standards. Auditors are also influenced in their judgments on the general nature of an illegal act rather than on how the illegality fits the framework adopted by the appropriate auditing standard.
International Journal of Auditing 06/2004; 8(2):165 - 184.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The extent to which auditing standards merely consolidate existing practice, as compared with the extent to which they are innovative and raise standards, is a matter of debate. This paper provides evidence on this issue in respect of the UK auditing standard SAS 120 concerned with the auditor’s responsibilities for client illegal acts. Six case examples of illegal acts were developed and these formed the basis for interviews with forty-three practising auditors. It was found that auditors’ assessments of their ability under current practice to discover specific illegal acts are significantly below their perceptions as to the need for these acts to be discovered. This indicates that auditors believe that their responsibilities in this area of the audit are not being adequately discharged. It was also found that auditor consensus appears to be an important consideration in the shaping of the standard and this is consistent with viewing auditing standards as consolidations of professional practice. However, it was also found that levels of consensus did vary and tended to be less in the case of less familiar illegal acts or those less proximate to the financial statements.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: This paper develops the conceptual and paradigmatic issues of social audit as groundwork for possible implementation within public services focusing particularly on the primary healthcare sector. Early sections of the paper consider arguments as to why social audit may be particularly relevant to the contemporary health care environment as well as some of the possible obstacles and reservations to its implementation. Alternative approaches to social audit are then discussed. A polyvocal citizenship perspective (PCP) which enables the direct participation of stakeholders is adopted. This is grounded in the concepts of reciprocal interest, empowerment evaluation and accountability. A social accounting and audit model is proposed which places emphasis on a system of iterative and interactive process of stakeholder dialogue, feedback and evaluation. Lastly, some prototypical ideas for social audit based on the Patients' Charter are discussed.
International Journal of Auditing 09/2003; 4(1):3 - 28.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The Enron debacle and other scandals highlight the issue of whether analytical procedures (APs) or more traditional audit approaches based on substantive testing are more appropriate. This paper surveys the use of APs by Canadian external auditors and augments understanding of the impact of auditing standards on professional practice. Our results demonstrate that APs are extensively applied in practice, particularly by larger firms, and that their use dominates the final review stage of the audit regardless of firm size. While standards do not appear to be an important influence upon practice for audit firms in general, this is not the case for smaller firms. Though auditors place more reliance on APs to reduce tests of detail, there are limits to this reliance. Our results indicate that while auditors may have increased their use of APs with the expectation of efficiency gains, these may be realized at present only partially.
Journal of International Accounting Auditing and Taxation 01/2003; 12(2):153-168.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: This study provides experimental evidence on several important measures for evaluating the performance of auditor judgement in an analytical review (AR) context. The results of the study suggest that UK auditors demonstrated only moderate level of judgement performance, as measured by consensus, consistency, and self-insight. Contrary to what might be expected, the study did not find that auditors from larger firms exhibited relatively greater consensus. In order to identify experience effects the paper employs the ‘expertise paradigm’ [Accounting, Organizations and Society 18 (1993) 425]. Significant experience effects were identified implying that auditor judgement performance might be improved if less straightforward judgements were to be made by more senior auditors than is currently the case. The results of the study may have implications for both the cost structures and staffing policies of audit firms.
The British Accounting Review 01/2003; 35(1):19-34.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The NHS in the UK continues to undergo rapid reforms incorporating New Public Financial Management techniques with limited attention only given to the theoretical underpinning and practical limitations of participatory health choice and evaluation. The study adopts a reflexive approach to realizing the aim of implementing empowering social audit—a paradigm founded in a polyvocal citizenship perspective (PCP). The paper explores the ethical dilemmas in implementing social audit in Primary Health Care. The research follows on from consultation with patients to reflect on concerns of accountability, patients’ interests and values. Democratic participation and informed choice are inextricably bounded by the existing economic, informational and power relationships. These potentially constricting factors are discussed using the illustrative case of generic prescribing. Patients preference for voice participation and their affirmation for “accountability" (albeit under-defined at present) should encourage engagement with a community development approach for new social accounting and social audit.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: This paper provides evidence as to how five factors highlighted in the current UK auditing standard are taken into account by auditors in analytical review (AR) judgements. While the relative importance of particular cues was generally found to be consistent with the standard, certain factors were taken into account only to a marginal extent. Little evidence of configural cue usage was identified. The study also provides evidence of a tendency towards conservatism in the way auditors approach AR. The results suggest both that the potential to substitute AR for other substantive procedures may be realised only imperfectly and that the issue of configural reasoning should be addressed in the auditing standard. Copyright Blackwell Publishers Ltd 2000.
Journal of Business Finance & Accounting 01/2001; 27(9&10):821-857. · 0.69 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: This paper reports on an interpretive research project which examines the feasibility of implementing social audit within the general medical practice setting. The study aims to communicate patients' voices to aid evaluation of the potential contribution of social audit to the public health sector and also addresses particular conceptual problems which arise when attempting to implement social audit within this environment. The fieldwork focuses on one general health practice in Lanarkshire (in southern central Scotland). Consultative focus group discussions and individual interviews were carried out with a sample of twenty two patients. Patients were most concerned with health service organisational and delivery issues. Overall, the results suggest patients are enthusiastic about the ideas and process of the social audit. Patients were able to demonstrate a capacity for grasping accountability issues and balanced reasoning. There was an acute awareness of the constraints which exist in the public services. Patients addressed the broad rights and responsibilities issues, and highlighted the possible pitfalls of relying on a representational mechanism for ensuring their voices were heard. The study concludes that an involved and negotiative dialogue process of implementing social audit could provide beneficial understanding and ideas to the organisation which may be further researched.
Journal of Business Ethics 11/1998; 17(13):1481-97. · 0.96 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: This paper reports the results of the first comprehensive survey to investigate the use of analytical review (AR) by external auditors in the UK. The research indicates that extent of usage varies significantly according to firm size and with each audit stage. Results suggest that the recent Auditing Standard which mandates the use of AR at both the planning and review stages will raise standards of practice; in particular those of smaller firms. More effective audit comfort, rather than competition between firms, was regarded as the most important factor driving the increased use of AR. Straightforward AR techniques were regarded as cost-effective and were found to dominate. Regression analysis, on the other hand, was regarded as cost ineffective and to require expert knowledge.
The British Accounting Review 01/1997; 29(1):35-47.