In this paper a corporate social responsibility audit is developed following the underlying methodology of the quality award/excellence models. Firstly the extent to which the quality awards already incorporate the development of social responsibility is examined by looking at the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award and the European Quality Award. It will be shown that the quality awards do not yet include ethical aspects in relation to social responsibility. Both a clear definition of social responsibility and an improved (...) class='Hi'>audit instrument are required. A definition and an audit instrument are developed which stimulate movement in that direction and help organisations to reflect on their position in relation to social responsibility. (shrink)
Prior literature has demonstrated that religiosity is associated with a reduced acceptance of unethical business practices and financial reporting irregularities. On this premise, we examine whether religiosity, conceptualized as the degree of adherence to religious norms in the geographical area where a firm’s headquarters is located, has an impact on audit firms’ pricing decisions in the US. We measure the intensity of religiosity by the number of adherents relative to the total population in a county and demonstrate that increased (...) religious adherence operates as an institutionalized monitoring mechanism that decreases audit risk and audit costs, which is, in turn, reflected in reduced audit pricing. Additional tests suggest that the impact of religiosity on auditors’ pricing decisions is not differentiated by levels of auditor expertise but that audit fees are determined by an auditor’s relative location in a market sector and religious adherence. We conclude that religious adherence reduces the need for shareholders to bear the costs of monitoring agents, a finding which could be of importance for market participants and regulators. (shrink)
The Sarbanes–Oxley Act of 2002 requires audit committees of public companies’ boards of directors to install an anonymous reporting channel to assist in deterring and detecting accounting fraud and control weaknesses. While it is generally accepted that the availability of such a reporting channel may reduce the reporting cost of the observer of a questionable act, there is concern that the addition of such a channel may decrease the overall effectiveness compared to a system employing only non-anonymous reporting options. (...) The rationale underlying this concern involves the would-be reporter’s likelihood of reporting, the seriousness with which the organization treats an anonymous report, and the organization’s ability to thoroughly follow-up the report. Thus, we explore the extent to which the availability of an anonymous reporting channel influences intended use of non-anonymous reporting channels. Further, in response to Sarbanes–Oxley and the environment of financial scandals that led to its passage, many firms are strengthening their internal audit departments, and providing them with greater independence from upper management’s direct control. Accordingly, our examination tests whether the intended use of the internal audit department as an internal reporting channel is greater when the internal audit department is of “high” versus “low” quality. Finally, the study investigates intended reporting behavior across three different cases (e.g., settings). Results show that the existence of an anonymous channel does reduce the likelihood of reporting to non-anonymous channels, that generally the internal audit department quality does not affect reporting to non-anonymous channels, and that case-setting affects the type of channel to be used. Implications from the study are discussed. (shrink)
This research examines the possibility of developing a new corporate social responsibility (CSR) auditing system based on the analysis of current CSR literature and interviews conducted with a number of interested and knowledgeable stakeholders. This work attempts to create a framework for social responsibility auditing compatible with an existing commercially successful environmental audit system. The project is unusual in that it tackles the complex issue of CSR auditing with a scientific approach using Grounded Theory. On the evidence discovered to (...) date in the literature review and the interviews, CSR seems to be perceived by many as the social strand of sustainable development. However, there is far less agreement regarding its measurement. Both the literature review and the interview analysis indicate that developing an applied CSR auditing procedure will be a challenging task. This is principally due to the lack of formal study of this complex subject, which, despite the widespread debate it has engendered, still lacks a single and broadly accepted definition. The concepts developed from the findings of this research, together with the key factors identified in a literature review of CSR, were developed into a prospective CSR audit protocol. (shrink)
Two elements of corporate governance—the strength of ethical executive leadership and the internal audit function (IAF hereafter)—provide guidance to accounting managers making decisions involving uncertainty. We examine the joint effect of these two factors, manipulated at two levels (strong, weak), in an experiment in which accounting professionals decide whether to book a questionable journal entry (i.e., a journal entry for which a reasonable business case can be made but there is no supporting documentation). We find that ethical leadership and (...) the IAF interact to determine the likelihood that accountants book the entry. Specifically, accountants are less likely to book a questionable journal entry when there is a weak ethical leader and a strong IAF compared to all other conditions. In addition, we find that accountants question the appropriateness and ethicalness of the request to book an undocumented journal entry more in the weak ethical leader and strong IAF condition than in the other conditions. These results suggest that the IAF has a different impact on financial reporting decisions depending on the ethicalness of executive leadership and that a strong IAF may cause accountants to question the appropriateness and ethicalness of an undocumented journal entry when combined with weak ethical leadership. We also find that the interactive effect of ethical leadership and the IAF on an accountant’s decision is fully mediated by his/her perception of the moral intensity of the issue. Thus, accountants, who perceive greater moral intensity associated with booking the entry, are less willing to do so. (shrink)
This study examines whether the gender of the directors on fully independent audit committees affects the ability of the committees in constraining earnings management and thus their effectiveness in overseeing the financial reporting process. Using a sample of 525 firm-year observations over the period 2003 to 2005, we are unable to identify an association between the proportion of female directors on audit committees and the extent of earnings management.
Comprehensive regulatory changes brought on by recent corporate governance reforms have broadly redefined and re-emphasized the roles and responsibilities of all the participants in a public company’s financial reporting process. Most notably, these reforms have intensified scrutiny of corporate audit committees, whose role as protectors of investors’ interests now attracts substantially higher visibility and expectations. As a result, audit committees face the formidable challenge of effectively overseeing the company’s financial reporting process in a dramatically changed – and highly (...) charged – corporate governance environment. This paper discusses the new expectations of audit committee responsibilities and effectiveness in the wake of corporate governance reforms, key challenges, “whistleblower” provisions and shortcomings, and provides some directions for future research. (shrink)
There is an international consensus that medical research involving humans should only be undertaken in accordance with ethical principles. Paradoxically though, there is no consensus over the kinds of activities that constitute research and should be subject to review. In the UK and elsewhere, research requiring review is distinguished from clinical audit. Unfortunately the two activities are not always easy to differentiate from one another. Moreover, as the volume of audit increases and becomes more formal in response to (...) the demand for evidence-based practice in medicine, the overlap between research and audit grows more acute. Arguably, similar ethical standards and systems for ensuring that those standards are met should be applied regardless of whether or not a project is classified as research or audit. At a time when the research ethics review system in the UK is undergoing significant reform it is important that the opportunity is not missed to address the longstanding research-audit problem. We discuss suggestions for further reform that addresses this issue. (shrink)
Recent scholarship has considered the implications of the rise of voluntary private standards in food and the role of private actors in a rapidly evolving, de-facto ‘mandatory’ sphere of governance. Standards are an important element of this globalising private sphere, but are an element that has been relatively peripheral in analyses of power in agri-food systems. Sociological thought has countered orthodox views of standards as simple tools of measurement, instead understanding their function as a governance mechanism that transforms many things, (...) and people, during processes of standardisation. In a case study of the Australian retail supermarket duopoly and the proprietary standards required for market access this paper foregrounds retailers as standard owners and their role in third-party auditing and certification. Interview data from primary research into Australia’s food standards captures the multifaceted role supermarkets play as standard-owners, who are found to impinge on the independence of third-party certification while enforcing rigorous audit practices. We show how standard owners, in attempting to standardize the audit process, generate tensions within certification practices in a unique example of ritualism around audit. In examining standards to understand power in contemporary food governance, it is shown that retailers are drawn beyond standard-setting into certification and enforcement, that is characterized by a web of institutions and actors whose power to influence outcomes is uneven. (shrink)
Previous accounting ethics research berates auditors for ethical lapses that contribute to the failure of Andersen (e.g., Duska, R.: 2005, Journal of Business Ethics 57, 17–29; Staubus, G.: 2005, Journal of Business Ethics 57, 5–15; however, some of the blame must also fall on regulatory and professional bodies that exist to mitigate auditors’ ethical lapses. In this paper, we consider the ethical and economic context that existed and facilitated Andersen’s failure. Our analysis is grounded in Akerlof’s (1970, Quarterly Journal of (...) Economics August, 488–500) Theory of the Market for Lemons and we characterize the market for audit reports as a market for lemons. Consistent with Akerlof’s model, we consider the appropriateness of the countervailing mechanisms that existed at the time of Andersen’s demise that appeared to have effectively failed in counteracting Andersen’s ethical shortcomings. Finally, we assess the appropriateness of the remedies proposed by the Sarbanes–Oxley Act of 2002 (SOA) to ensure that similar ethical lapses will not occur in the future. Our analysis indicates that the SOA regulatory reforms should counteract some of the necessary conditions of the Lemons Model, and thereby mitigate the likelihood of audit failures. However, we contend that the effectiveness of the SOA critically depends upon the focus and attention of the␣Public Companies Accounting Oversight Board (PCAOB) towards assessing the ethical climates of public accounting firms. Assessments by the PCAOB of public accounting firm’s ethical climate are needed to sufficiently ensure that public accounting firms effectively promote and maintain audit quality in situations where unconscious bias or economic incentives may erode the public accounting firm’s independence. (shrink)
We report an experiment examining the effect of three factors on professional Hong Kong liquidators' decisions to bring legal action in negligence against auditors. Factors were (a) the strength (merit) of the supporting evidence (arguable vs. overwhelming), (b) the type of alleged audit failure (failure to report financial statement errors vs. management fraud) and (c) audit firm type (Big 6 vs. non-Big 6). We find evidence that liquidators' litigation decisions are influenced by case merit. We also find that (...) liquidators were marginally more likely to institute legal action against a Big 6 than against a non-Big 6 auditor. However, we find no evidence that the type of alleged audit failure influences litigation decisions. (shrink)
Audit standards require auditors to conduct audits being independent in mental attitude from their clients. Regulators and financial statement users are concerned that auditors compromise their independence by allowing clients that contract for consulting services, i.e., non-audit services, more financial statement discretion relative to clients that demand relatively little non-audit services from their auditor. This paper begins by discussing the role of auditing in the capital markets and the various stakeholders that rely on audited financial information in (...) making their capital allocation decisions. The paper continues by explaining the ethical dilemma inherent in audit contracts in general, and more specifically, how the provision of non-audit services threatens auditor independence. The paper concludes by summarizing research studies that report conflicting evidence that there is a violation of auditor independence due to the provision of non-audit services to audit clients. (shrink)
In the Chinese stock market, special treatment (ST) firms are the firms listed as facing imminent danger of delisting, unless they return to profitability after reporting two consecutive annual losses. Some ST firms voluntarily pay substantial fees to their external auditors to conduct interim audits, which are not required by regulations. In this study, we investigate and find that ST firms that pay for voluntary interim audits report greater discretionary accrued earnings, higher non-operating earnings, and higher returns on assets in (...) ensuing annual reports. As a result, these firms are more likely to return to profitability and reduce their delisting risk. Our results, which contribute to the current debate on auditor independence, appear to be consistent with the possibility that ST firms “buy” external auditors’ cooperation to manipulate earnings when faced with the threat of delisting. (shrink)
This article considers the moral notion of care in the context of Quality of Care discourses. Whilst care has clear normative implications for the delivery of health care it is less clear how Quality of Care, something that is centrally involved in the governance of UK health care, relates to practice.
The Namibian Governance Code was implemented in 2014 and calls for organisations to manage ethics effectively. This study proposes an ethics framework that can be used by management to build an ethical culture and used by internal auditors to assess the effectiveness of an organisation’s ethical culture. Data was collected from managers and senior internal auditors in the financial services industry, based on their views of the proposed ethics framework. Management agreed that such a framework could contribute to building an (...) ethical organisational culture because there is a lack of guidance available. Internal auditors agreed that the framework could assist the IAF in assessing ethics. However, it appears that this practice in Namibia is limited to an assessment of the codes of conduct only. Furthermore, there appears to be a lack of reporting on ethics performance to stakeholders, primarily because participants’ organisations did not implement integrated reporting as yet. (shrink)
We argue that the privatisation of education needs to be understood through an ethical lens, and suggest a broad framework through which privatisation policies and practices might be ethically audited. These policies and practices -- it is suggested -- are creating new ethical spaces and new clusters of goals, obligations and dispositions. Whatever the merits of our particular reading of these changes, we would call for an urgent public debate on these questions -- one that looks beyond broad ideological questions (...) to consider the effects of privatisation on the nature of the services provided. (shrink)