In this study, internal auditors are asked to come to a view on whether functions they perform in connection with internal audit engagements are essential, and to what degree. Inspired by Burns, Greenspan and Hartwell’s concept of the true professional, there is an underlying interest in determining whether, and under what circumstances, internal auditors’ enjoy the authority over and independence from management that we might expect of a professional. The findings emerge from a survey of New Zealand auditors, all of whom are IIA branch members. A 73 per cent response rate is achieved over the original and follow‐up survey. A factor analysis identifies converging issues, and t‐tests isolate responses by employment status, disciplinary background, experience, and audit charter existence. The findings suggest that characteristics of a “true” profession exist but do not dominate. Significantly, and as subgroups, public practice and experienced auditors may enjoy greater influence over management, and accountancy‐trained auditors may enjoy greater status owing to the “mystique” of their activities. Comments from the internal auditors shed further light on these results. Conclusions point to further avenues for research.
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