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Article
Publication date: 5 August 2022

Michael Harber, Grietjie Verhoef and Charl de Villiers

The paper aims to examine disputed interpretations of “key meanings” between the audit regulator and Big 4 firms during a highly contentious regulatory debate, showcasing…

Abstract

Purpose

The paper aims to examine disputed interpretations of “key meanings” between the audit regulator and Big 4 firms during a highly contentious regulatory debate, showcasing their use of “strategies of resistance” to achieve their intended outcomes.

Design/methodology/approach

A qualitative analysis is performed of the discourse in a South African audit regulatory debate, set within the country's unique political and historical context. The analysis is informed by the theoretical construct of a “regulatory space” and an established typology of strategic responses to institutional pressures.

Findings

The study’s findings show how resistance to regulatory intentions from influential actors, notably the Big 4 firms, was dispelled. This was achieved by the regulator securing oversight independence, co-opting political support, shortening the debate timeline and unilaterally revising the interpretation of its statutory mandate. The regulator successfully incorporated race equality into its interpretation of how the public interest is advanced (in addition to audit quality). The social legitimacy of the Big 4 was then further undermined. The debate was highly contentious and unproductive and likely contributed to overall societal concerns regarding the legitimacy of, and the value ascribed to, the audit function.

Practical implications

A deeper appreciation of vested interests and differing interpretations of key concepts and regulatory logic could help to promote a less combative regulatory environment, in the interest of enhanced audit quality and the sustainability and legitimacy of the audit profession.

Originality/value

The context provides an example, contrary to that observed in many jurisdictions, where the Big 4 fail to actively resist or even dilute significant regulatory reform. Furthermore, the findings indicate that traditional conceptions of what it means to serve “the public interest” may be evolving in favour of a more liberal social democratic interpretation.

Details

Accounting, Auditing & Accountability Journal, vol. ahead-of-print no. ahead-of-print
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0951-3574

Keywords

Article
Publication date: 1 February 2022

Michael Harber and Gizelle D. Willows

This paper aims to extend our understanding of how mid-tier firm auditors legitimise and institutionalise the logic of commercialism within their profession. This paper is…

Abstract

Purpose

This paper aims to extend our understanding of how mid-tier firm auditors legitimise and institutionalise the logic of commercialism within their profession. This paper is responsive to research that shows how Big Four auditors have restructured the market and re-cast the relationality between the two logics to forge an identity that suits them commercially. Such research provides insight into auditor agency and intentionality, illustrating how auditors maintain and indeed grow their status and role within society.

Design/methodology/approach

Semi-structured interviews with audit executives situated in a strategically challenging regulatory context are interpreted through a theoretical framework developed from institutional complexity theory, coupled with the understanding that institutional logics are a socially constructed phenomenon.

Findings

Mid-tier auditors appear to be as commercially orientated as their Big Four counterparts, expressing the logics of professionalism and commercialism as highly complementary. In response to competitive pressures and the difficulty of replicating the multi-disciplinary practice business model of the Big Four, mid-tier auditors present a competitive and contrasting identity as “more devoted experts”, using various legitimation techniques and “heroic” representations. This identity representation is strategic, allowing them to forge a consistent and coherent “collective identity defining story” designed to counter the “versatile expert” identity of the Big Four and establish social legitimacy with their potential client base.

Originality/value

These findings contribute to our understanding of how mid-tier auditors are “catching up” to the Big Four in the construction of their commercial business model. By shedding light on the rhetoric and “identity experimentation” of auditors, the findings can aid legislators and regulators to exercise democratic control over the profession and promulgate regulations that better align auditors’ interests with the public interest. As regulators encourage mid-tier firms to compete with the Big Four and lower supply concentration in the market, this study believes the tensions inherent in the logics, as well as the strategic necessity for firms to represent themselves in a favourable manner, will become more prominent.

Details

Accounting, Auditing & Accountability Journal, vol. 35 no. 8
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0951-3574

Keywords

Article
Publication date: 31 March 2021

Harina Ndaba, Michael Harber and Warren Maroun

This paper explores how technical constructions of audit practice are influenced by mandatory audit firm rotation (MAFR) regulations. The paper responds to calls for…

Abstract

Purpose

This paper explores how technical constructions of audit practice are influenced by mandatory audit firm rotation (MAFR) regulations. The paper responds to calls for additional research on how external regulation influences audit quality and supplements the predominately quantitative research dealing specifically with firm rotation and its relevance for audit quality.

Design/methodology/approach

Data are collected from South Africa which is the latest jurisdiction to adopt MAFR (from 2017). Detailed interviews with 49 participants comprising 24 audit partners and 25 non-auditors are conducted to explore how MAFR can impact audit quality. For this purpose, audit quality is defined according to a schematic developed interpretively and based on professional auditing standards and the prior research on audit quality.

Findings

There is no guarantee that MAFR will bolster auditors' independence or contribute to a more thorough audit approach. On the contrary, the effort required by incoming audit firms to gain an understanding of new clients coupled with material tendering costs is expected to decrease the profitability of audit engagements with adverse implications for audit quality. A loss of client experience and staff retention challenges may contribute further to a decline in audit quality. There may be some improvements to audit practice when an incumbent firm's work is going to be scrutinised by a new auditor but audit methodologies, including the nature and extent of testing performed, are not expected to change significantly because of MAFR. In this way, the regulation may be a symbolic response to a perceived decline in audit quality and auditor independence rather than part of an effective strategy to encourage more rigorous audit practice for the benefit of the users of financial statements.

Originality/value

The current paper provides one of the first exploratory accountants of how MAFR is expected to impact audit practice and, in turn, audit quality. The research responds to the call for more field-work studies on the mechanics of the audit process by engaging directly with practitioners instead of relying on inferential testing of broad audit quality surrogates. The study also makes an important empirical contribution by providing primary evidence on how external regulation influences audit practice from a seldom studied African perspective.

Details

Journal of Accounting in Emerging Economies, vol. 11 no. 3
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 2042-1168

Keywords

Article
Publication date: 8 July 2020

Michael Harber and Warren Maroun

This study aims to address an acknowledged gap in the literature for the analysis of experienced practitioner views on the effects and implications of mandatory audit firm…

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Abstract

Purpose

This study aims to address an acknowledged gap in the literature for the analysis of experienced practitioner views on the effects and implications of mandatory audit firm rotation (MAFR).

Design/methodology/approach

Using an exploratory and sequential design, data was collected from South African regulatory policy documents, organisational comment letters and semi-structured interviews of practitioners. These findings informed a field survey, administered to auditors, investors, chief financial officers (CFOs) and audit committee members of Johannesburg Stock Exchange (JSE) listed companies.

Findings

Practitioners expressed considerable pushback against the potential efficacy of MAFR to improve audit quality due to various “switching costs”, notably the loss of client-specific knowledge and expertise upon rotation. In addition, the cost and disruption to both the client and audit firm are considered significant and unnecessary, compared to audit partner rotation. The audit industry may suffer reduced profitability and increased strain on partners, leading to a decline in the appeal of the profession as a career of choice. This is likely to have negative implications for audit industry diversity objectives. Furthermore, the industry may become more supplier-concentrated amongst the Big 4 firms.

Practical implications

The findings have policy implications for regulators deciding whether to adopt the regulation, as well as guiding the design of policies and procedures to mitigate the negative effects of adoption.

Originality/value

The participants are experienced with diverse roles concerning the use, preparation and audit of financial statements of large exchange-listed multinational companies, as well as engagement in the auditor appointment process. The extant literature presents mixed results on the link between MAFR and audit quality, with most studies relying on archival and experimental designs. These have a limited ability to identify and critique the potential’s witching costs and unintended consequences of the regulation. Experienced participants responsible for decision-making within the audit, audit oversight and auditor appointment process, are best suited to provide perspective on these effects, contrasted against the audit regulator’s position.

Details

Managerial Auditing Journal, vol. 35 no. 7
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0268-6902

Keywords

Article
Publication date: 1 April 1979

Billie‐Ann Harber

Much of our daily time in social, home, and work situations is spent influencing and modifying the behaviour of others. We all have certain abilities for getting along…

Abstract

Much of our daily time in social, home, and work situations is spent influencing and modifying the behaviour of others. We all have certain abilities for getting along with people, and generally these abilities are exercised in natural unconscious ways. Without really thinking about it, we constantly act to adjust our own or another's behaviour to create a desirable interaction.

Details

Education + Training, vol. 21 no. 4
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0040-0912

Article
Publication date: 7 August 2007

Abby Ghobadian, David Gallear and Michael Hopkins

The purpose of this paper is to explore the similarities and differences between Total Quality Management (TQM) and Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR). Moreover, the…

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Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to explore the similarities and differences between Total Quality Management (TQM) and Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR). Moreover, the paper considers the implications of these similarities and differences for the future development of TQM and CSR.

Design/methodology/approach

This paper is a structured discourse analysis which is used to systematically explore these two discursive subjects. Both concepts encompass discursive ideas and practices.

Findings

The findings in the paper suggest that the two concepts share similar philosophical roots, that there is a substantial overlap between the elements of the two concepts, and that the ultimate expected outcome shows significant similarities. Despite these similarities, however, implementation of TQM will not necessarily result in CSR.

Research limitations/implications

In this paper the findings lead to the conclusion that it is important to recognise the specific needs of CSR and include them as an implicit part of TQM. This conclusion has an important practical and descriptive theoretical implication and the extent to which CSR is diffused as a part of TQM depends on it.

Practical implications

The paper highlights the need for the development of a descriptive theory, that is to say, the identification of the mechanism(s) through which elements of CSR could be developed and implemented alongside that of TQM.

Originality/value

The paper sees that the question of the intersection between CSR and TQM has attracted the interest of other researchers. The majority of the previous work is normative. The contribution to this developing literature is made by adopting a systematic discursive approach using philosophy, elements of TQM/CSR process and outcomes as the framework for the analysis.

Details

International Journal of Quality & Reliability Management, vol. 24 no. 7
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0265-671X

Keywords

Content available
Book part
Publication date: 21 November 2022

Abstract

Details

Cultures of Authenticity
Type: Book
ISBN: 978-1-80117-937-9

Book part
Publication date: 23 September 2020

Jennifer Schneider

This chapter seeks to help and support online educators in their efforts to improve tomorrow. Specifically, the chapter shares practical strategies and tools that online…

Abstract

This chapter seeks to help and support online educators in their efforts to improve tomorrow. Specifically, the chapter shares practical strategies and tools that online educators can easily apply, adapt, and/or personalize in order to help promote a mindfully multicultural classroom in their online classrooms and programs. The chapter includes a wide range of actionable tools and exercises to help online instructors optimize the learning experience for all students by building upon the unique strengths and diverse cultural backgrounds of all students in their online classrooms. The strategies help instructors leverage diversity as a means to promote equity and social justice in online programs and, ultimately, the world as a whole. The chapter relies upon Gollnick and Chinn’s (2017) six beliefs that are fundamental to multicultural education and presents strategies from two perspectives or lenses (student-focused and faculty-focused). Approaching the issue from a dual-sided lens is intended to best support the ultimate goal of improving the student learning experience. Emphasis is placed on both public and private interactions between faculty and students. Public interactions include all discussion board and announcement communications. Public interactions also include resources that are shared in the online classroom for all students’ benefit.

Details

Developing and Supporting Multiculturalism and Leadership Development: International Perspectives on Humanizing Higher Education
Type: Book
ISBN: 978-1-83909-460-6

Keywords

Article
Publication date: 25 October 2017

Suni Mydock III, Simon James Pervan, Alanoud F. Almubarak, Lester Johnson and Michael Kortt

The purpose of this paper is to explore the extent to which consumer purchasing behaviour is influenced by advertised information that a product is made with renewable…

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Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to explore the extent to which consumer purchasing behaviour is influenced by advertised information that a product is made with renewable energy. It also seeks to identify why some consumers might respond more favourably.

Design/methodology/approach

Three experiments were conducted using two samples of university students enroled in Australia. The first experiment tested the main effect of this research, the second tested the potential amplifying effect of locus of control and the third tested the temporal orientation.

Findings

Consumer respond favourably to products promoted as made with renewable energy. The possible explanation for this is that future temporal orientation (FTO) influences attitude towards the brand, attitude towards the advertisement, purchase intention and willingness to pay a premium for brands. The observed interaction effect between perceived greenness of the advertisement and FTO is also robust to scepticism.

Research limitations/implications

Results presented here are also derived from responses made by students at a regional Australian university. Although atypical in their profile with most over 30 years of age, findings cannot reliably be generalised to the larger population. Determining how much importance a renewable energy appeal has when it is positioned among other green appeals would reveal the relative usefulness of the focal promotion to marketers.

Practical implications

Promoting a firm’s use of renewable energy presents an important opportunity to achieve desirable outcomes, and the efficacy of this is magnified within individuals that habitually focus on the future.

Social implications

These findings benefit society because they contribute towards increasing the frequency of sustainable business practices. It should also encourage policy-makers to implement policy changes (e.g., removing subsidies that prevent renewable energy from attaining cost parity with non-renewable sources of energy), which can result in beneficial economic outcomes.

Originality/value

This research is the first of its kind to be conducted in an Australian context, providing findings that assist both firms’ and policy-makers’ decision-making.

Details

Marketing Intelligence & Planning, vol. 36 no. 1
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0263-4503

Keywords

Book part
Publication date: 21 November 2022

Lucy Frowijn, Frank Harbers and Marcel Broersma

The authors examine the tensions between the public and commercial functions of social media platforms with a particular focus on how Instagram influencers look to…

Abstract

The authors examine the tensions between the public and commercial functions of social media platforms with a particular focus on how Instagram influencers look to demonstrate their “authenticity” whilst also pursuing commercial objectives. Drawing on a large-scale quantitative content analysis of the accounts of prominent Dutch fashion and lifestyle influencers, the authors demonstrate an “authenticity gap” between the way these influencers claim to be authentic in the way they talk about influencer culture, and the extent to which they actually implement “authenticity marker’s” in their Instagram posts.

Details

Cultures of Authenticity
Type: Book
ISBN: 978-1-80117-937-9

Keywords

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