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Whistle-blowing by external auditors in South Africa: Enclosure, efficient bodies and disciplinary power

Maroun, Warren and Atkins, Jill ORCID: 2014. Whistle-blowing by external auditors in South Africa: Enclosure, efficient bodies and disciplinary power. Accounting, Auditing and Accountability Journal 27 (5) , pp. 834-862. 10.1108/AAAJ-11-2012-1154

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Purpose The purpose of this paper is to explore how notions of disciplinary power manifest themselves in audit regulatory developments. When it comes to research on the relationship between audit quality and regulation, much of the prior scholarly work has kept to the positivist tradition of quantitative analysis under the guise of “economic rationality”. In contrast, this research takes an interpretive approach to provide an alternate and unique perspective, using motifs of Foucauldian power and control to illuminate the operation of external regulation in a South African setting. The paper examines what may be loosely described as a mandatory whistle-blowing duty imposed on external auditors. Design/methodology/approach Detailed interviews with some of South Africa's leading corporate governance experts are used to highlight the disciplinary effect of an auditor's duty to bring reportable irregularities to the attention of an independent regulator. Findings Blowing the whistle on irregularities contributes, not only to increasing the information made available to stakeholders, but to creating a valid expectation of auditors serving the public interest by enhancing a sense of transparency and accountability. Elements of resistance to panoptic-like control are, however, also present suggesting that, in part, the regulation may simply be creating the illusion of active reporting.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Published Online
Status: Published
Schools: Business (Including Economics)
Publisher: Emerald
ISSN: 0951-3574
Last Modified: 26 Apr 2023 09:45

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