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The disruption of blockchain in auditing – a systematic literature review and an agenda for future research

Rosa Lombardi (University of Rome La Sapienza, Rome, Italy)
Charl de Villiers (The University of Auckland, Auckland, New Zealand) (University of Pretoria, Pretoria, South Africa)
Nicola Moscariello (University of Campania - L. Vanvitelli, Capua, Italy)
Michele Pizzo (University of Campania - L. Vanvitelli, Capua, Italy)

Accounting, Auditing & Accountability Journal

ISSN: 0951-3574

Article publication date: 24 May 2021

1651

Abstract

Purpose

This paper presents a systematic literature review, including content and bibliometric analyses, of the impact of blockchain technology (BT) in auditing, to identify trends, research areas and construct an agenda for future research.

Design/methodology/approach

The authors include studies from 2010 to 2020 in their structured literature review (SLR), using accounting journals on the Scopus database, which yielded 40 articles with blockchain and auditing at its core.

Findings

One of the contributions of the authors’ analyses is to group the prior research, and therefore also the agenda for future research, into three main research areas: (1) Blockchain as a tool for auditing professionals to improve business information systems to save time and prevent fraud; (2) Smart contracts enabling Audit 4.0 efficiency, reporting, disclosure and transparency; (3) Cryptocurrency and initial coin offerings (ICOs) as a springboard for corporate governance and new venture financing. The authors’ findings have several important implications for practice and theory.

Practical implications

The results of this study emphasise that (1) the disruption of blockchain in auditing is in a nascent phase and there is a need for compelling empirical studies and potential for the involvement of practitioners; (2) there may be a need to reconsider audit procedures especially suited for digitalisation and BT adoption; (3) standards, guidelines and training are required to pivot towards and confront the challenge BT will represent for auditing; and (4) there are two sides to the BT coin for auditing, enthusiasm about the potential and risk upon implementation. These practical implications can also be seen as a template for future research in a quest to align theory and practice.

Originality/value

The authors’ SLR facilitates the identification of research areas and implications, forming a useful baseline for practitioners, professionals and academics, as they draft the state of the art on the disruption of blockchain in auditing, highlighting how BT is changing auditing activities and traditions.

Keywords

Citation

Lombardi, R., de Villiers, C., Moscariello, N. and Pizzo, M. (2021), "The disruption of blockchain in auditing – a systematic literature review and an agenda for future research", Accounting, Auditing & Accountability Journal, Vol. ahead-of-print No. ahead-of-print. https://doi.org/10.1108/AAAJ-10-2020-4992

Publisher

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Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2021, Emerald Publishing Limited

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