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Exploring auditor independence: an interpretive approach


  • Mohammad Hudaib
  • Roszaini Haniffa


Purpose - The purpose of this paper is to explore the construction of the meanings of auditor independence (AI) in an oil-rich autocratic state with an ideology straddling liberal market capitalism and Design/methodology/approach - The concept of AI was explored using Blumer's interactionist approach or the Chicago School of Symbolic Interactionism (CSSI). Multiple methods were adopted in collecting and interpreting data: document analysis, personal professional experience, observation and interviews with auditors in two audit firms in Saudi Arabia. Findings - Using discourse analysis, the paper demonstrates that auditors construct the meanings of independence in appearance and in fact through their social interactions at three levels: micro (personal self-reflexivity through ethical reasoning and reputation of individual auditor); meso (organisational culture through range of commercial activities and image management) and macro (through political, Originality/value - The paper contributes to the auditing literature by providing insights into the construction of the meaning of AI in a context different from the dominant Anglo-American discourse, as well as transition and emerging economies discourse. The paper also contributes to the CSSI research methodology by extending it to consider interactions not only within an organisational context, but also within the context of a country.

Suggested Citation

  • Mohammad Hudaib & Roszaini Haniffa, 2009. "Exploring auditor independence: an interpretive approach," Accounting, Auditing & Accountability Journal, Emerald Group Publishing, vol. 22(2), pages 221-246, January.
  • Handle: RePEc:eme:aaajpp:v:22:y:2009:i:2:p:221-246

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Carpenter, Brian & Dirsmith, Mark, 1993. "Sampling and the abstraction of knowledge in the auditing profession: An extended institutional theory perspective," Accounting, Organizations and Society, Elsevier, vol. 18(1), pages 41-63, January.
    2. Radcliffe, Vaughan S., 1998. "Efficiency audit: An assembly of rationalities and programmes," Accounting, Organizations and Society, Elsevier, vol. 23(4), pages 377-410, May.
    3. Hopper, Trevor & Storey, John & Willmott, Hugh, 1987. "Accounting for accounting: Towards the development of a dialectical view," Accounting, Organizations and Society, Elsevier, vol. 12(5), pages 437-456, August.
    4. 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.
    5. Dirsmith, Mark W. & Haskins, Mark E., 1991. "Inherent risk assessment and audit firm technology: A contrast in world theories," Accounting, Organizations and Society, Elsevier, vol. 16(1), pages 61-90.
    6. Jonsson, Sten & Macintosh, Norman B., 1997. "CATS, RATS, AND EARS: Making the case for ethnographic accounting research," Accounting, Organizations and Society, Elsevier, vol. 22(3-4), pages 367-386.
    7. Pat Sucher & Svetlana Bychkova, 2001. "Auditor independence in economies in transition: a study of Russia," European Accounting Review, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 10(4), pages 817-841.
    8. McNair, C. J., 1991. "Proper compromises: The management control dilemma in public accounting and its impact on auditor behavior," Accounting, Organizations and Society, Elsevier, vol. 16(7), pages 635-653.
    9. Rosenberg, David & Tomkins, Cyril & Day, Peter, 1982. "A work role perspective of accountants in local government service departments," Accounting, Organizations and Society, Elsevier, vol. 7(2), pages 123-137, April.
    10. Nahapiet, Janine, 1988. "The rhetoric and reality of an accounting change: A study of resource allocation," Accounting, Organizations and Society, Elsevier, vol. 13(4), pages 333-358, June.
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    Auditing; Ethics; Religion; Saudi Arabia;


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