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Article
Publication date: 2 August 2011

Danielle Morin

This paper seeks to investigate the work performed by French Cour des comptes magistrates as part of performance audits. The research objective is to understand who the…

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Abstract

Purpose

This paper seeks to investigate the work performed by French Cour des comptes magistrates as part of performance audits. The research objective is to understand who the magistrates are, what they do, how they do what they do, how they perceive their role, what authority they feel they can claim, and how, through performance audits, they try to influence the way the organisations they visit are run.

Design/methodology/approach

In addition to 35 interviews conducted with Court magistrates (based on a semi-structured interview questionnaire) and non-participant observation, public documentation was analysed. To understand how magistrates perform their tasks at the Court, basic theories on influence processes and theories on decision making developed by Herbert A. Simon were applied.

Findings

After exploring the universe in which magistrates of the French Cour des comptes operate, it appears that their undertaking of performance audits has engendered a host of competing visions: the transition to modernity has to occur. The Court presents itself officially as a supreme audit institution but it acts as a grand corps de l ' État (senior branch of the Civil Service). Magistrates come to the Court of their own accord and make every effort to avoid being viewed as control professionals. The Court openly positions itself as a “judge of management”, wishing to impose its jurisdictional authority on activities that are essentially professional in character. A migration from traditional roles is observed: the role of the Court as a critic of the Administration has been sidelined. In addition, the magistrates claim to be judges when they are in the ambit of the Court, but shed this role for that of “catalysts of change” when they interact with representatives of the organisations audited.

Research limitations/implications

The research is based on a detailed analysis of a specific context. This may limit the wider applicability of the findings. However, the data gathered from the French experience could be useful for other supreme audit institutions (SAIs) whose status is equivalent to that of the Court, or whose mandate has expanded in the past decade.

Originality/value

This study lifts the veil on the performance audit practice at one of the numerous supreme audit institutions. In addition, the French context has received scant attention from researchers.

Details

Accounting, Auditing & Accountability Journal, vol. 24 no. 6
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0951-3574

Keywords

Book part
Publication date: 15 June 2022

Marcel Guenoun and Robin Degron

In France, local government external audit is controlled by external auditors called ‘chambres régionales des comptes’ (CRC – Regional Audit Office) which mimicry at the…

Abstract

In France, local government external audit is controlled by external auditors called ‘chambres régionales des comptes’ (CRC – Regional Audit Office) which mimicry at the local level the audits conducted by the ‘Cour des comptes’ (CC – National Audit Office) at the national scale. These institutions conduct three kinds of control: legal controls of local public accounts, budgetary controls on behalf of prefects that are political representatives of the central government in the territory and audits of regularity and performance. An experimentation of accounts certification is ongoing. The main part of activities of regional audit institutions is dedicated to performance auditing. But this performance audit is limited to economy and efficiency as the article L. 211-8 of the Code of financial jurisdictions do not allow the CRC to discuss the goals of policies and programmes.

Details

Auditing Practices in Local Governments: An International Comparison
Type: Book
ISBN: 978-1-80117-085-7

Keywords

Article
Publication date: 1 March 1999

Peter Johnstone

In England and Wales the Crown Prosecutor is a lawyer who is independent from the investigation and is charged with assessing evidence and evaluating whether a prosecution…

Abstract

In England and Wales the Crown Prosecutor is a lawyer who is independent from the investigation and is charged with assessing evidence and evaluating whether a prosecution should proceed or not. The CPS is intentionally authorised to override the decisions of the police to curb any potentially over‐zealous investigations and evidence gathering that might subsequently tarnish the standards of procedure in the courts when applying the criminal law. The increasingly burdensome rules of disclosure have made demands on the CPS which are akin to the overall requirement on the investigating magistrate of civil law jurisdictions to find the truth by examination of the prosecution and defence evidence. The recent moves to return a limited number of lawyers to police stations is a further indication that the future role of the CPS may include an active rather than solely passive role in evidence gathering. The Serious Fraud Office are directly involved in the investigation and prosecution of complex frauds. This office has statutory and judicial authority to conduct investigations which follow an inquisitorial rather than accusatorial model. The juge d'instruction in France has authority to direct and control police investigations and subsequently to compile a dossier of evidence for presentation before a trial court. This paper points out that there are close parallels emerging in pre‐trial procedures in England and Wales and in France and the criticisms of the role of the investigating magistrate, the ‘sick man’, may hold lessons to be learnt for investigators and prosecutors within this jurisdiction.

Details

Journal of Financial Crime, vol. 7 no. 1
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1359-0790

Article
Publication date: 7 November 2016

Danielle Morin and Mouna Hazgui

Three decades ago, the National Audit Office (NAO) in the UK acquired the powers to evaluate the extent that the British Administration was managed with economy…

1127

Abstract

Purpose

Three decades ago, the National Audit Office (NAO) in the UK acquired the powers to evaluate the extent that the British Administration was managed with economy, efficiency and effectiveness. The NAO has since adopted a dual mission: to help Parliament hold government to account and to improve public service. This study aims to investigate value-for-money (VFM) auditors’ internalisation of a dual organisational identity: “obstructive” actions as representatives of a Supreme Audit Institution (SAI) and “enabling good practice”, induced by a will stated in the mission that the NAO authorities have adopted.

Design/methodology/approach

The organisational identity held and promoted by VFM auditors working at the NAO was explored in this research project. The authors specifically examined the understanding of those who claim to be serving both Parliament and organisations audited in their quest for performance improvement. The authors prompted the auditors to explain how they manage to reconcile these seemingly incompatible roles, namely, that of guardians and watchdogs who must publicly report gaps noted and that of assistants in government’s learning process. To this end, the authors conducted a field study at the NAO in September 2012 during which 21 auditors were interviewed individually and as part of two discussion groups.

Findings

The findings indicate that the auditors interviewed do not perceive a dichotomy in NAO’s double mission, which they believe to be congruent with their audience’s expectations. They draw meaning and usefulness from their role of monitoring the Administration if they believe they have contributed to improve public affairs management. In their view, the singular role of guardian no longer suffices. The authors conclude that VFM auditors’ recently acquired identity of “moderniser” reflects a self-efficacy expectation that prevents them from recognising the apparent paradox within their dual identity and that lets them fantasise about their real influence on the Administration.

Research limitations/implications

Admittedly, the limited number of auditors interviewed and who took part in discussion groups is not conducive to generalisation of the conclusions to all auditors in the NAO or to other SAIs. However, although modest in number, the auditor respondents have accumulated many years of VFM audit practice and have contributed to the production of many reports. The respondents could therefore rightfully speak of their work as VFM auditors and as representatives of an institution such as the NAO.

Practical implications

This study contributes to the debates about the place and role of SAIs in the control environment of Administrations. By soliciting testimonials from the actors working within the NAO, the authors could thus question certain a priori assumptions held by stakeholders in the political and administrative world for whom auditors are mere “watchdogs” of Administrations, and nothing more.

Originality/value

The dual mission that the NAO has adopted (similar to many other SAIs) has been formally and publicly stated. It was therefore worth investigating how experienced auditors such as those interviewed had internalised this mission. The authors argue that this dual mission, perhaps inspired by the managerialist culture that has shaped changes to the British Administration (and many other occidental Administrations) since the early 1980s and that is seemingly encouraged by Government, twists the legislator’s intentions, which are to consider SAIs’ auditors as guardians and watchdogs of Administrations, not as agents of change and improvement.

Details

Journal of Accounting & Organizational Change, vol. 12 no. 4
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1832-5912

Keywords

Article
Publication date: 19 October 2015

Mouna Hazgui and Yves Gendron

The purpose of this paper is to extend research on contemporary forms of oversight surrounding professional work in an era characterized by increased skepticism regarding…

1742

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to extend research on contemporary forms of oversight surrounding professional work in an era characterized by increased skepticism regarding professional claims and the rise of independent regulatory authorities. The authors investigate the interplay between key actors as well as the shifting role boundaries in a distinct regulatory space, following the introduction of a new public oversight framework.

Design/methodology/approach

The analysis draws on the notions of regulatory space and boundary work to better understand the development of independent audit oversight in France. The authors adopted an interpretive approach to conduct a longitudinal case study based on 33 interviews and documentary data produced from 2003 to 2012.

Findings

The study provides a narrative of the boundary work carried out by the French audit profession as it tried to reinvent its role in the new regulatory order. In the case, boundary work engendered a hybrid regulatory pattern, named “co-regulation,” reflecting both the logic of independent regulation and the logic of self-regulation. The main consequence of this is that zones of mutual involvement were constructed – thereby suggesting that to become a reality, independent oversight of professional work needs to accept some operational dependence from professionals.

Originality/value

The study illustrates the elusiveness of boundaries surrounding actors’ role within contemporary forms of professional regulation. More generally, hybrid development suggests that professions are proactive and, to some extent, successful when it comes to developing alliances and manipulating changes within their regulatory space.

Details

Accounting, Auditing & Accountability Journal, vol. 28 no. 8
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0951-3574

Keywords

Article
Publication date: 1 February 2003

Danielle Morin

Public finance watchdogs and guardians of the public purse. These are just two of the labels branded on Auditors General over the years. Since their initiation into value…

1268

Abstract

Public finance watchdogs and guardians of the public purse. These are just two of the labels branded on Auditors General over the years. Since their initiation into value for money audit only three decades ago, they have continually been exposing cases of public financing laxity. Each time the auditors approach a government organization, their reputation invariably precedes them. But what happens when the controllers decide to turn over a new leaf and become catalysts for change and improvement who have come to help managers improve their public organizations? Auditees, totally unaccustomed to seeking help from auditors, are understandably befuddled. On the other side of the coin, auditors are equally inexperienced at providing assistance to auditees. There is many a slip twixt cup and lip before the role confusion dissipates.

Details

Managerial Auditing Journal, vol. 18 no. 1
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0268-6902

Keywords

Open Access
Article
Publication date: 15 January 2020

Sina K. Feldermann and Martin R.W. Hiebl

This paper aims to examine the current practice of reporting on translation issues in qualitative, interdisciplinary accounting research. Based on an analysis of the…

2596

Abstract

Purpose

This paper aims to examine the current practice of reporting on translation issues in qualitative, interdisciplinary accounting research. Based on an analysis of the methodological consideration of the translation of quotations from non-English interviews and additional interviews with experienced researchers, the authors aim to develop recommendations for the reporting on such translation procedures in future accounting research relying on interviews not conducted in English.

Design/methodology/approach

The analysis is based on papers published in four highly ranked interdisciplinary accounting journals: Accounting, Auditing and Accountability Journal (AAAJ), Accounting, Organizations and Society (AOS), Critical Perspectives on Accounting (CPA) and Qualitative Research in Accounting and Management (QRAM). The subjects of the analysis are publications of non-English-speaking researchers who conducted non-English interviews and therefore were confronted with translation issues when attempting to get published in these English-language journals. Additionally, to gain deeper insights into reporting decisions on language and translation issues, the authors conducted interviews with experienced researchers in the field of qualitative, interdisciplinary accounting research whose mother tongue is not English. The authors combine these empirical insights with current developments in translation studies.

Findings

As suggested by translation studies, translation is an act of sense making and reconstruction of meaning, and therefore is a complex task that needs to be carried out with caution. However, the findings suggest that in current interdisciplinary, qualitative accounting research, the reporting of language and translation issues, especially with regards to the translation of quotations from interview data, have so far received only limited attention. The authors therefore call for more awareness of and sensibility toward dealing with language and translation issues, which should be reflected in more transparent reporting on translation processes to support the credibility and authenticity of qualitative accounting studies based on non-English interviews.

Research limitations/implications

This paper is limited to the reporting on the methodological consideration of translating quotations from non-English interviews in papers published in AAAJ, AOS, CPA and QRAM between 2004 and 2015. For future accounting research that relies on such interviews, the authors call for more transparency and provide specific recommendations. This in turn should strengthen the awareness that language and translation are factors to be considered and reported.

Originality/value

This paper is the first to develop recommendations for the reporting of translation processes in accounting research studies, which are based on interviews not led in the English language.

Details

Qualitative Research in Accounting & Management, vol. 17 no. 2
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1176-6093

Keywords

Article
Publication date: 4 April 2016

Markus Seyfried

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

Abstract

Purpose

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

Design/methodology/approach

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.

Findings

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.

Originality/value

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.

Details

Managerial Auditing Journal, vol. 31 no. 4/5
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0268-6902

Keywords

Article
Publication date: 27 May 2021

Onsa Akrout and Salma Damak Ayadi

The present work aimed to enhance the understanding of professional turnover intentions of accounting professionals by exploring their attitudes towards this phenomenon in…

Abstract

Purpose

The present work aimed to enhance the understanding of professional turnover intentions of accounting professionals by exploring their attitudes towards this phenomenon in an emerging economy (Tunisia).

Design/methodology/approach

An exploratory research was conducted using a narrative approach (episodic interviewing) after having interviewed accounting professionals. Data were analysed with the thematic coding method using NVivo software based on the push-pull-mooring (PPM) framework. Based on this analysis, four types of professionals were identified.

Findings

The interconnections among PPM factors, which are different from one type of professionals to another, play a vital role in whether a professional intends to leave the accounting profession or not. All four types of professionals perceived unpleasant facets of the public practice environment (push factors) and manifested a tendency to switch to available job opportunities (pull factors). Nevertheless, the latitude for profession change, for the third and the fourth types who perceived the professional experience differently, is restricted by mooring factors. That is not the case for the first type of professionals who have already left public accounting and the second type who intend to quit the profession, as we did not find any mooring factors.

Research limitations/implications

This study explored the attitudes of accounting professionals towards professional turnover intention. A deeper insight into the views of the academics and the Ordre des Experts Comptables de Tunisie (OECT) might help understand this phenomenon.

Practical implications

Understanding the relative impact of push, pull and mooring allows the accounting professionals to determine their attitudes towards the intention to leave the profession. This enables firms to develop more effective programmes to retain valued accounting human resources. The findings highlight that the professional associations should promote the values the profession brings to the community through nationwide public awareness campaigns and enhance career opportunities by providing more branches of activity within the profession.

Originality/value

The paper responds to calls for further examination of factors behind professional turnover intention at a time when high rates of turnover were observed among accounting professionals. Also, the cultural context of Tunisia helps explain our findings.

Details

Journal of Accounting in Emerging Economies, vol. 12 no. 1
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 2042-1168

Keywords

Open Access
Article
Publication date: 4 November 2021

Giorgia Mattei, Giuseppe Grossi and James Guthrie A.M.

Public sector auditing research has changed rapidly over the past four decades. This paper aims to reveal how the field has developed and identify avenues for future research.

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Abstract

Purpose

Public sector auditing research has changed rapidly over the past four decades. This paper aims to reveal how the field has developed and identify avenues for future research.

Design/methodology/approach

The authors used a structured literature review following Massaro et al. The sample comprises papers on public sector auditing published in accounting and public sector management journals between 1991 and 2020.

Findings

The present analysis highlights that academic research interest in public sector auditing has grown and become more diverse. The authors argue this may reflect a transformation of the public sector in recent decades, owing to the developing institutional logics of public sector reforms, from traditional public administration to new public management and now new public governance.

Originality value

This paper offers a comprehensive review of the public sector auditing literature, discussing different perspectives over time. It also outlines the various public sector reforms introduced over the period of the study. In reviewing the existing literature, the authors highlight the themes for future research and policy settings.

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