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Audit committee role: formal rituals or effective oversight process?

Ahmed Atef Oussii (Institut Supérieur d’Administration des Affaires de Sfax, Université de Sfax, Sfax, Tunisia)
Mohamed Faker Klibi (Department of Finance and Accounting, Université de Tunis École Supérieure des Sciences Économiques et Commerciales de Tunis, Tunis, Tunisia)
Insaf Ouertani (Department of Management Science, Higher Institute of Management of Tunis, Université de Tunis, Le Bardo, Tunisia)

Managerial Auditing Journal

ISSN: 0268-6902

Article publication date: 31 May 2019

Issue publication date: 12 June 2019

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Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to analyze the perception held by attendees about the role and the effectiveness of their audit committees.

Design/methodology/approach

The investigation was conducted via a qualitative methodology through the content analysis of interviews conducted with 33 attendees of audit committee meetings of Tunisian listed companies.

Findings

The findings reveal that audit committees do not have the means to achieve the objectives that they have been given by the legal texts, which are likely to characterize their work as “ceremonial” or “symbolic.” This paper also found that the most significant effects of the audit committee chair’s role come through informal meetings and conversations.

Practical implications

The paper’s findings have policy implications for regulators. Findings from this research may allow regulators to assess whether the audit committee activities in Tunisian companies meet their expectations.

Originality/value

This paper tries to fill a gap in the extant literature and provides meaningful information on activities performed by audit committees and the extent to which they are perceived effective in the eyes of attendees of audit-committee meetings. This study is one of the few field investigations that have analyzed audit committees’ effectiveness in emerging markets through interviews with attendees involved in audit-committee processes.

Keywords

Citation

Oussii, A.A., Klibi, M.F. and Ouertani, I. (2019), "Audit committee role: formal rituals or effective oversight process?", Managerial Auditing Journal, Vol. 34 No. 6, pp. 673-695. https://doi.org/10.1108/MAJ-11-2017-1708

Publisher

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Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2019, Emerald Publishing Limited