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Auditing Stories about Discomfort: Becoming Comfortable with Comfort Theory

  • Thomas Carrington
  • Bino Catasus
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    The sociological strand of auditing research has pointed to some difficulties of the American Accounting Association's (AAA) (and mainstream) definition asserting that auditing is about 'objectively obtaining and evaluating evidence regarding assertions about economic actions' (AAA, The Accounting Review, Suppl., 1972, p. 18). Instead, auditing has been described as rituals of verification that produce comfort. In this paper we seek to widen the understanding of the production of comfort by investigating the processes that end up as an audit. The processes are investigated by addressing the research question: how do auditors perceive the production of comfort? Twenty seniors were interviewed on the subject of identified discomforts in the audit process. The interviews were designed to identify the main allies and foes in the processes that make up an audit. In the presentation of the interviews, comfort theory is employed as a device to interpret the seniors' statements in terms of comfort as state, comfort as relief and comfort as renewal. Our conclusion is that the state of comfort that is demanded to become comfortable with an audit changes in relation to which actors get involved in the comfort production. Attaining a state of comfort involves a decision that sufficient discomforts have been relieved. In addition, as the definition of what it means to attain a state of comfort changes, more or less comfort as relief is required, and the audit, understood as becoming comfortable, is renewed. Suggested by comfort theory, the paper in this way develops the idea of auditing as a comfort-producing activity by examining three dimensions of audit comfort.

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    Article provided by Taylor & Francis Journals in its journal European Accounting Review.

    Volume (Year): 16 (2007)
    Issue (Month): 1 ()
    Pages: 35-58

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    Handle: RePEc:taf:euract:v:16:y:2007:i:1:p:35-58
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