Discourse and audit change: Transformations in methodology in the professional audit field

Rihab Khalifa, Nina Sharma, Christopher Humphrey, Keith Robson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

61 Citations (Scopus)


Purpose - This paper aims to develop understanding of how the pursuit of practice change in auditing, especially in relation to audit methodologies, is conveyed, presented, reflected in and enabled (or hindered) through discursive, textual constructions by audit firms. Design/methodology/approach - The paper uses an extensive series of interviews with audit practitioners, educators and regulators and a textual study of the content, concordances and narratives contained in two key audit methodological texts published by KPMG, one of the Big Four accounting firms. Findings - Major discursive shifts in audit methodologies are identified over the last decade, with the dominant audit discourse switching from one of "business value" to one of "audit quality". Such shifts are analysed in terms of developments in the wider, organisational field and discursive (re)constructions of audit at the level of the audit firm. Originality/value - The identified shifts in auditing discourse are important in a number of respects. They demonstrate the significance of discursive elements of audit practice, contradicting influential prior claims that methodological discussions and developments in audit over the last decade had focused consistently on notions of "audit quality". Methodologically, they demonstrate the importance and opportunities for knowledge development available by combining institutional, field-wide analysis with a detailed discursive study of individual interviews and texts.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)825-854
Number of pages30
JournalAccounting, Auditing and Accountability Journal
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 2007
Externally publishedYes


  • Auditing
  • Organizations
  • Quality
  • Risk management

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Accounting
  • Economics, Econometrics and Finance (miscellaneous)


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