The purpose of this paper is to investigate the current practices of large UK organisations with respect to post-audits of capital projects with the aim of improving management decision making in the future. The investment process has been clearly mapped out in the literature, with the initial project proposal, appraisal, selection (investment decision), implementation, completion, and finally the post-audit. It is this latter stage which is ignored by so many organisations and has received less attention in the academic literature, a gap the author hopes to fill.
The empirical data are collated from a postal questionnaire, semi-structured interviews, followed by a short e-mail questionnaire. A methodological triangulation of empirical data obtained from the questionnaires and interviews, were undertaken to overcome some of the deficiencies from just using one method of data collection. The research is empirical and uses exploratory descriptive analysis to interpret the findings. The author focuses on the aspect of organisational learning theory as a process of continuous improvement, learning from past experience, especially in the management decision-making paradigm.
The author discovered nine important reasons for undertaking post-audits and ten for not. An important observation is that while those organisations which do not undertake post-audits attach a greater level of importance to “the reasons for not carrying out post-audits” and “the problems faced in the implementation of post-audits”, these difficulties have been overcome by those organisations that undertake post-audits. Evidence suggests that the current change in business culture, as a result of the recent financial crisis, may be refocusing the aims of post-audits from a learning exercise to one of managerial responsibility.
The research may be limited (in forming general conclusions) as it is based on a relatively small sample size. The author does not, however, believe that this distracts from its importance.
The author argues that training the non-users to overcome the perceived difficulties would enhance the investment decision-making process by encouraging them to learn from the experience of those that undertake post-audits.
The research is original as it reports on a current survey and will fill, what the author perceives to be, a gap in the literature. The respondents to the research consists of some of the most senior executives from the largest UK organisations and their views on academic issues are, in many cases, difficult to obtain; this research therefore has value in this respect. The findings point the way to new lines of enquiry in this field.
Lefley, F. (2016), "An exploratory study of the post-audit practices of large UK organisations: the way forward", Management Decision, Vol. 54 No. 5, pp. 1140-1159. https://doi.org/10.1108/MD-10-2015-0482Download as .RIS
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