ISO auditing and the construction of trust in auditor independence

Authors: Dogui, KouakouBoiral, OlivierGendron, Yves
Abstract: Purpose – This paper aims to examine, through a qualitative study, how auditor independence is socially constructed within the network of individuals involved in the realization of ISO 14001 audit engagements – ISO auditors, consultants, and managers of certified companies. The paper analysis focuses on the sense-making strategies used by actors within the network to develop and sustain trust (or doubt) in professional independence. Design/methodology/approach – This study is predicated on a theoretical perspective centered on sense-making processes and the construction of inter-subjective meanings around claims to expertise. Interviews were conducted with 36 Canadian practitioners – including ISO auditors, managers of certification bodies, accreditation inspectors, consultants, and corporate environmental managers – to better understand how confidence into auditor independence is constituted in the flow of daily life within the small group of people involved in the surroundings of ISO 14001 audit engagements. Findings – Practitioners use a range of sense-making strategies to construct and maintain the belief that IS0 14001 audits meet the professional requirements of auditor independence. As such, the constitution of confidence involves stereotyping, distancing, storytelling and procedural mechanisms that are collectively mobilized in the production of a culture of comfort surrounding the concept of auditor independence. Originality/value – Through interviews with a range of actors involved in the achievement of ISO 14001 audits, the study provides insight into the production of meaning related to one of the chief claims surrounding auditing expertise, that of professional independence. This paper also points to a lack of self-criticism in the ISO auditing community since practitioners seem disinclined to adopt a reflective attitude of professional skepticism towards the claim of auditor independence
Document Type: Article de recherche
Issue Date: 1 January 2013
Open Access Date: 13 April 2017
Document version: AM
This document was published in: Accounting, Auditing and Accountability Journal
Accounting, Auditing & Accountability Journal, Vol. 26 (8), 1279–1305 (2013)
Alternative version: 10.1108/AAAJ-03-2013-1264
Collection:Articles publiés dans des revues avec comité de lecture

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