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Motivation to use big data and big data analytics in external auditing

Lina Dagilienė (Kauno Technologijos Universitetas, Kaunas, Lithuania)
Lina Klovienė (Kauno Technologijos Universitetas, Kaunas, Lithuania)

Managerial Auditing Journal

ISSN: 0268-6902

Article publication date: 26 June 2019

Issue publication date: 15 July 2019




This paper aims to explore organisational intentions to use Big Data and Big Data Analytics (BDA) in external auditing. This study conceptualises different contingent motivating factors based on prior literature and the views of auditors, business clients and regulators regarding the external auditing practices and BDA.


Using the contingency theory approach, a literature review and 21 in-depth interviews with three different types of respondents, the authors explore factors motivating the use of BDA in external auditing.


The study presents a few key findings regarding the use of BD and BDA in external auditing. By disclosing a comprehensive view of current practices, the authors identify two groups of motivating factors (company-related and institutional) and the circumstances in which to use BDA, which will lead to the desired outcomes of audit companies. In addition, the authors emphasise the relationship of audit companies, business clients and regulators. The research indicates a trend whereby external auditors are likely to focus on the procedures not only to satisfy regulatory requirements but also to provide more value for business clients; hence, BDA may be one of the solutions.

Research limitations/implications

The conclusions of this study are based on interview data collected from 21 participants. There is a limited number of large companies in Lithuania that are open to co-operation. Future studies may investigate the issues addressed in this study further by using different research sites and a broader range of data.

Practical implications

Current practices and outcomes of using BD and BDA by different types of respondents differ significantly. The authors wish to emphasise the need for audit companies to implement a BD-driven approach and to customise their audit strategy to gain long-term efficiency. Furthermore, the most challenging factors for using BDA emerged, namely, long-term audit agreements and the business clients’ sizes, structures and information systems.


The original contribution of this study lies in the empirical investigation of the comprehensive state-of-the-art of BDA usage and motivating factors in external auditing. Moreover, the study examines the phenomenon of BD as one of the most recent and praised developments in the external auditing context. Finally, a contingency-based theoretical framework has been proposed. In addition, the research also makes a methodological contribution by using the approach of constructivist grounded theory for the analysis of qualitative data.



The authors are pleased to acknowledge comments on earlier version of the paper from delegates at 38th EAA Congress, Glasgow, April 2015.


Dagilienė, L. and Klovienė, L. (2019), "Motivation to use big data and big data analytics in external auditing", Managerial Auditing Journal, Vol. 34 No. 7, pp. 750-782.



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