The role of internal auditing in corporate governance: a Foucauldian analysis

Publication Type:
Journal Article
Accounting, Auditing and Accountability Journal, 2017, 30 (3), pp. 699 - 719
Issue Date:
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© 2017, © Emerald Publishing Limited. Purpose: The purpose of this paper is to articulate the conceptual foundations of the role of internal auditing in corporate governance by drawing on Michel Foucault’s concept of governmentality. Design/methodology/approach: The paper is a literature-based analysis of the role of internal auditing from a Foucauldian perspective. Findings: It is argued that Foucault’s notion of governmentality provides conceptual tools for researching internal auditing as a disciplinary mechanism in the corporate governance setting of contemporary organizations. The paper develops an initial conceptual formulation of internal auditing as: ex post assurance about the execution of economic activities within management’s preconceived frameworks and ex ante advisory services to enhance the rationality of economic activities and accompanying controls. Research limitations/implications: The paper is expected to initiate debate on the choice of theory and method in internal auditing research. The propositions and research agenda discussed can be used to address research questions of an interpretive nature that could enrich the current understanding of internal auditing. Originality/value: This paper extends the Foucauldian analysis of accounting to incorporate internal auditing. It offers original propositions as a research agenda and discusses ontological and epistemic considerations associated with adopting the Foucauldian framework for internal auditing research.
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