Setting a fox to guard the henhouse? Determinants in elections for presidents of supreme audit institutions

Markus Seyfried (Faculty of Economics and Social Sciences, University of Potsdam, Potsdam, Germany)

Managerial Auditing Journal

ISSN: 0268-6902

Publication date: 4 April 2016



The purpose of this paper is to provide evidence regarding the selection procedures for and characteristics of senior officials in supreme audit institutions (SIAs).


This study follows a quantitative approach using original data collected for presidential elections of SIAs in the 16 federal states in Germany. A fractional logit model is calculated to test different theoretical assumptions in relation to structural, political and individual factors.


The descriptive results confirm the findings of prior research that presidential candidates are elected with very high approval rates. The main determinants are the vote share of the ruling coalition and the executive experience of the presidential candidate.

Research limitations/implications

This study focuses on 16 federal states in Germany, but an international comparative perspective covering subnational levels would further augment analysis through the variance of selection procedures and electoral outcomes.

Social implications

Independence of auditors is a fundamental issue for the control of the executive, but it seems that there are inevitable trade-offs therein, such as between knowledge of the auditing objects or the politicization of the election process and the independence of the auditor.


This study provides novel empirical insights into the election and selection procedures for senior SIA officials at the subnational level, and shows that the executive exerts strong, but functionally reasonable, influence on candidate selection.



The author would like to thank Ina Radtke, Bastian Jantz and Thomas McGath for their support and helpful comments on earlier versions of this article.


Seyfried, M. (2016), "Setting a fox to guard the henhouse? Determinants in elections for presidents of supreme audit institutions", Managerial Auditing Journal, Vol. 31 No. 4/5, pp. 492-511.

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