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Internal auditors’ roles: From watchdogs to helpers and protectors of the top manager

Mélanie Roussy

CRITICAL PERSPECTIVES ON ACCOUNTING, 2013, vol. 24, issue 7, 550-571

Abstract: The purpose of this paper is to understand the governance roles of internal auditors in public sector organizations. An analysis of 42 in-depth semi-structured interviews conducted with experienced internal auditors working in public administration in Quebec indicates that internal auditors perform two key roles: a protector role, further subdivided into two roles, protective shield and keeper of secrets, and a helper role, also subdivided into two roles, support of organizational performance and guide. The analysis also shows that internal auditors have developed a nuanced conception of independence defined as ‘grey independence’ in order to perform their roles. Internal auditors consider that their primary role is to serve the top manager and the organization and that they must prioritize the top manager at the expense of audit committee members. Therefore, this paper contributes to the literature on internal auditor independence. Overall, the findings suggest that internal auditing is not the governance watchdog expected by the regulatory bodies since this is not the role performed by internal auditors.

Keywords: Audit interne; Gouvernance; Indépendance; Nouvelle gestion publique; Secteur public; 內部稽核; 治理; 獨立性; 新公共管理; 公共部门; Auditoríainterna; Gobernancia; Independencia; Nueva GestiónPública; Sector Público; Internal audit; Independence; Governance; Public sector; New public management (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2013
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