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Internal control in accounting research: A review

aSwinburne Business School, Swinburne University of Technology, Australia
bAuckland Business School, University of Auckland, New Zealand
cUniversity of Monastir, Tunisia

Journal of Accounting Literature

ISSN: 0737-4607

Article publication date: 14 March 2018

Issue publication date: 30 June 2019



In 2001, the US moved to regulate internal control reporting by management and auditors. While some jurisdictions have followed the lead of the US, many others have not. An important question, therefore, is the relevance of internal control to stakeholders. The more specific issue of the benefits of US-style regulation of internal control reporting is also topical. We review studies on the determinants of internal control quality and its economic consequences for stakeholders including investors, creditors, managers, auditors and financial analysts. We extend previous reviews by focusing on US studies published since 2013 as well as all non-US studies investigating IC quality including countries regulating IC disclosure as well as unregulated settings and both developed and developing economies. In doing so, we identify research questions where evidence remains mixed and new directions in which there are research opportunities.

Three main insights arise from our analysis. First, evidence on the economic consequences of internal control quality suggests that the quality of internal control can have a significant effect on decision making by users of financial information. Second, the results of research on the empirical association between ownership structure, certain board characteristics and internal control quality is generally mixed. Empirical evidence concerning the association between audit committee characteristics and internal control quality generally supports a positive and significant association. Finally, while studies in non-US jurisdictions are increasing, opportunities remain to explore the determinants and consequences of internal control in other jurisdictions. Our review provides evidence for policy makers of whether there are benefits from requiring management and auditors to report on internal control over financial reporting.



Chalmers, K., Hay, D. and Khlif, H. (2019), "Internal control in accounting research: A review", Journal of Accounting Literature, Vol. 42 No. 1, pp. 80-103.



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