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From Compliance to Continuous Improvement Focused Non-financial Auditing: a Comparison of Attitudes Between Auditors and Their Clients

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posted on 05.06.2017, 03:15 authored by Power, Damien J., Terziovski, Mile, Sohal, Amrik S.
The purpose of this study is to compare the attitudes of non-financial auditors with that of their clients regarding the conduct of these audits, and the auditing process in general. The research involved the development and application of two survey instruments, one applied to a sample of 300 practising non-financial auditors, the other to a sample of 1500 of their clients. The respective response rates from each survey were 42% for the auditor sample (126 responses) and 27% for the client sample (400 responses). The research study revealed the following key findings: The non-financial auditor sample saw compliance focused auditing as being of significantly less importance than did their clients. On the other hand, they saw auditing focused on continuous improvement as being significantly more important. The client group appear to prefer an auditing style that is a combination of both compliance and continuous improvement auditing, whereas the auditors appear to be highly focused on continuous improvement. Non-financial auditors believe they are providing a style of auditing that is strongly focused on developing continuous improvement of client's quality systems. Their clients have entirely the opposite view, believing they are getting less continuous improvement focused auditing than they would like, and more compliance auditing than they need. Based on the results of this study, we conclude that there is a significantly different view as to the "ideal" auditing style. The client group appear to see this as a combination of both compliance and continuous improvement auditing, whereas the auditors see it as being entirely focused on continuous improvement. This analysis verified that significant differences in expectation of audit conduct and performance exist between non-financial auditors and their clients. The main implication of our findings is that the auditing fraternity needs to bridge the gap that seems to exist between themselves and their clients. The new ISO 9001-2000 standard may play a key role in this process.


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