Auditing Standard Change and Auditors' Everyday Practice: A Field Study

  •  Federica De Santis    


The analysis of inertial phenomena in business context has been developed with reference to management and financial accounting (Hopwood, 1990; Hopwood and Miller, 1994). In the auditing field, however, only a few studies have attempted the inertial phenomenon (Salterio, 1996; Salterio & Koonce, 1997; O'Reilly, et al., 2004; Messier, et al., 2012). An opportunity to investigate more in depth the topic of auditing inertia is offered by the recent change of the auditing principles in Italy.

Stemming from the aforementioned consideration, this paper aims to analyze the phenomenon of auditing inertia making reference to a case of change in the auditing standards and procedures to which auditors refer to in performing audit works. In order to achieve this aim, a field study methodology was adopted.

The main findings are the following. First, it emerges that the reactions of the audit firms to the analyzed change of auditing standards are different. Second, the analyzed cases have shown that single auditors have undergone passively through the process of change. Third, the collected evidences also suggest some of the items that contribute to the adoption of an inertial behavior. Fourth, it emerges that the aim of the EU project, the harmonization and adaptability-flexibility of auditing procedures, is only partially achieved as sometimes occurs a substantial harmonization while in other cases it is only formal.

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