The role of internal auditing in corporate governance: a Foucauldian analysis

Dessalegn Getie Mihret (Department of Accounting, Deakin Business School, Deakin University, Melbourne, Australia)
Bligh Grant (Centre for Local Government, University of Technology, Sydney, Australia)

Accounting, Auditing & Accountability Journal

ISSN: 0951-3574

Publication date: 20 March 2017



The purpose of this paper is to articulate the conceptual foundations of the role of internal auditing in corporate governance by drawing on Michel Foucault’s concept of governmentality.


The paper is a literature-based analysis of the role of internal auditing from a Foucauldian perspective.


It is argued that Foucault’s notion of governmentality provides conceptual tools for researching internal auditing as a disciplinary mechanism in the corporate governance setting of contemporary organizations. The paper develops an initial conceptual formulation of internal auditing as: ex post assurance about the execution of economic activities within management’s preconceived frameworks and ex ante advisory services to enhance the rationality of economic activities and accompanying controls.

Research limitations/implications

The paper is expected to initiate debate on the choice of theory and method in internal auditing research. The propositions and research agenda discussed can be used to address research questions of an interpretive nature that could enrich the current understanding of internal auditing.


This paper extends the Foucauldian analysis of accounting to incorporate internal auditing. It offers original propositions as a research agenda and discusses ontological and epistemic considerations associated with adopting the Foucauldian framework for internal auditing research.



Mihret, D. and Grant, B. (2017), "The role of internal auditing in corporate governance: a Foucauldian analysis", Accounting, Auditing & Accountability Journal, Vol. 30 No. 3, pp. 699-719.

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