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Public sector auditor identities in making efficiency auditable: The National Audit Office of Denmark as independent auditor and modernizer

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  • Skærbæk, Peter
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    Abstract

    This paper examines how the National Audit Office of Denmark (NAOD) manoeuvred in making the Danish military receptive to a performance-accountability project in the period 1990-2007. Evidence is provided from a detailed case study, where the actions of the auditors have been followed in their efforts to make the military activities auditable by focusing on the multiple and dynamic interactions between them, the auditee and others. This study contributes to our understanding of how auditors manoeuvre with their performance audit devices in different ways to make efficiency auditable. It appears that as the auditee initiated the implementation of a new accounting system called DeMars a stream of overflows threatened to destabilise it. Groups within the auditee were eager to put heat into the overflowing. This study illuminates how the auditors, equipped with their devices of purification in the later stages of the project, helped at least provisionally to contain the overflows and stabilize the construction. Due to such different manoeuvres by the auditors, this paper demonstrates the problems that emerge when state auditors manoeuvre in performance auditing with identities both as 'modernizers', i.e., participating in providing the reasons for change and defining its designs and as 'independent auditors', i.e., to legitimize the construction in which they participated themselves. Many allies to the auditors worked hard in protecting the NAOD as the two identities conflicted with each other during the execution of the project.

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    Bibliographic Info

    Article provided by Elsevier in its journal Accounting, Organizations and Society.

    Volume (Year): 34 (2009)
    Issue (Month): 8 (November)
    Pages: 971-987

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    Handle: RePEc:eee:aosoci:v:34:y:2009:i:8:p:971-987

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    Web page: http://www.elsevier.com/locate/aos

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    1. Burchell, Stuart & Clubb, Colin & Hopwood, Anthony & Hughes, John & Nahapiet, Janine, 1980. "The roles of accounting in organizations and society," Accounting, Organizations and Society, Elsevier, vol. 5(1), pages 5-27, January.
    2. Power, Michael, 1996. "Making things auditable," Accounting, Organizations and Society, Elsevier, vol. 21(2-3), pages 289-315.
    3. Pentland, Brian T., 1993. "Getting comfortable with the numbers: Auditing and the micro-production of macro-order," Accounting, Organizations and Society, Elsevier, vol. 18(7-8), pages 605-620.
    4. Robson, Keith & Humphrey, Christopher & Khalifa, Rihab & Jones, Julian, 2007. "Transforming audit technologies: Business risk audit methodologies and the audit field," Accounting, Organizations and Society, Elsevier, vol. 32(4-5), pages 409-438.
    5. Power, Michael K., 2003. "Auditing and the production of legitimacy," Accounting, Organizations and Society, Elsevier, vol. 28(4), pages 379-394, May.
    6. Gendron, Yves & Cooper, David J. & Townley, Barbara, 2007. "The construction of auditing expertise in measuring government performance," Accounting, Organizations and Society, Elsevier, vol. 32(1-2), pages 101-129.
    7. Radcliffe, Vaughan S., 1999. "Knowing efficiency: the enactment of efficiency in efficiency auditing," Accounting, Organizations and Society, Elsevier, vol. 24(4), pages 333-362, May.
    8. Empson, Laura, 2004. "Organizational identity change: managerial regulation and member identification in an accounting firm acquisition," Accounting, Organizations and Society, Elsevier, vol. 29(8), pages 759-781, November.
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    Cited by:
    1. Vassili Joannides & Nicolas Berland & D. T. Wickramasinghe, 2010. "Post-Hofstede diversity/cultural studies: what contributions to accounting knowledge?," Grenoble Ecole de Management (Post-Print) hal-00676570, HAL.

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