The regulation of cross-border audits of development NPOs: A legitimacy perspective

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Abstract

Purpose - The audit of development funds that flow between development not-for-profit organisations (DNPOs) is virtually free from effective external regulation. When programme DNPOs subcontract development work to field DNPOs, they are under current international audit rules free to specify audit frameworks that are limited to the accuracy of the books. Questions of the efficacy of the development work can thus be bracketed off. This paper aims to develop an argument for improving the regulation of cross-national audits of DNPOs. Design/methodology/approach - Based on a review of the applicable audit regulation and ongoing debates of legitimacy and accountability, this paper articulates a series of problems that should be considered in the regulation of cross-national DNPO audits with reference to their specific legitimacy communities. Findings - The special consideration that is due to the beneficiaries of development activities suggests that cross-national DNPO audits should be regulated not just with reference to general audit and accounting rules. Consideration should be given as well to some of the key context variables that potentially have a bearing on the likelihood that the audited development programmes meet the claims of the legitimacy community of development. These can include the level and depth of accountability afforded to the beneficiaries, potentially conflicting legitimacy relationships, the nature of admissible records for the audit and the provisions for programme funds to cover the overheads of field DNPOs. Practical implications - The managerial implications of this paper concern the regulation, commissioning and conduct of cross-national DNPO audits. The authors propose a series of remedies to the scoping of field DNPO audits in a cross-national context. Originality/value - Focusing on the functioning of cross-border NPO audits, this paper adds an important facet to ongoing discussions about the accountability of current regulation to represent the new interdependencies brought about by the forces of globalisation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)394-414
Number of pages21
JournalQualitative Research in Accounting and Management
Volume13
Issue number4
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2016

Keywords

  • Accountability
  • Development NPO
  • Globalization
  • ISA
  • Legitimacy
  • NPO audit

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Business and International Management
  • Accounting

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