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The board's black hole – filling their assurance vacuum: can internal audit rise to the challenge?

Andrew Chambers (Member of Management Audit LLP, Old Bolingbroke, UK.)

Measuring Business Excellence

ISSN: 1368-3047

Article publication date: 21 March 2008




The purpose of this paper is to investigate whether there is a significant deficit in the assurance needs of boards and, if so, what might be done to fill this gap and whether internal auditors have a role to play in this.


Contemporary examples of boards being taken by surprise are analysed, making extensive use of high quality reports and other information. The role played by internal audit, both in these cases and with reference to what is currently regarded as “best practice” is explored to assess internal audit's potential to evolve to meet the challenge.


Boards are exposed to a partial assurance vacuum which urgently needs to be filled. If internal audit can make a further quantum leap, as internal audit has done in other respects in the past, then internal audit may fulfil this need.

Research limitations/implications

This research is based on the plentiful information in the public domain which has been sufficient to reliably support the conclusions drawn.

Practical implications

Nothing less than a root and branch revamp of internal auditing is called for. If responded to, the rewards for internal audit and the added value for boards and their stakeholders will be massive.


While internal auditors are tentatively moving into the audit of governance processes, this paper argues that internal audit must be much bolder to become a respected corporate governance partner to the board.



Chambers, A. (2008), "The board's black hole – filling their assurance vacuum: can internal audit rise to the challenge?", Measuring Business Excellence, Vol. 12 No. 1, pp. 47-63.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2008, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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