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E-business internal audit: the elephant is still in the room!

Amr Kotb (Accounting, Finance and Information Management Department, Lord Ashcroft Business School, Anglia Ruskin University, Chelmsford, UK and Faculty of Commerce, Cairo University, Cairo, Egypt)
Alan Sangster (Accounting, Finance and Economics, Griffith Business School, Griffith University, Nathan, Australia)
David Henderson (College of Business, University of Mary Washington, Fredericksburg, Virginia, USA)

Journal of Applied Accounting Research

ISSN: 0967-5426

Article publication date: 6 May 2014




The purpose of this paper is to explore the impact of technological change on the internal audit practices and skills requirements for internal auditors in an e-business environment.


Generalist internal auditors and specialist information technology (IT) internal auditors were surveyed online in ten countries, including the USA and the UK which, together, provided the majority of responses.


The results suggest a need for advanced IT-audit techniques in conducting the internal audit function, thereby increasing IT audit skill demands on generalist internal auditors. However, the results show a low confidence among internal auditors about their IT training and a continuing reliance upon IT audit specialists, rather than their own training/retraining.

Research limitations/implications

The responses obtained in this study provide insight into both the status quo of the internal audit function, and to the changes that are needed to prepare generalist internal auditors for work in an e-business environment and, while the scale of the study limits the extent to which the findings may be generalized, they are consistent with the literature concerning the changing business environment and with the literature on resistance to change, suggesting that the issues revealed should be of concern.

Practical implications

The results reported in this paper are useful to internal auditing educators and regulators in their consideration of the skills needed by generalist internal auditors in e-business environment.


This study sheds light on a significantly growing area which remains relatively unexplored in the auditing-related literature, e-business audit. The study provides empirical evidence on challenges facing internal auditors in an e-business environment, thereby serving as a wake-up call, to both internal auditors and the professional bodies representing them, to defend their jurisdictional space against rival professional groups.



The authors would like to thank the British Accounting and Finance Association Committee of Departments of Accounting and Finance (CDAF) for their funding of this project.


Kotb, A., Sangster, A. and Henderson, D. (2014), "E-business internal audit: the elephant is still in the room!", Journal of Applied Accounting Research, Vol. 15 No. 1, pp. 43-63.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2014, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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