How do auditors navigate conflicting logics in everyday practice?

21 May 2020

Historically professional logic has shaped accountancy, increasingly it has been shaped also by commercial logic. This study moves beyond these distinctions for a better and more nuanced analyses of how actors (Big 4 auditors) navigate conflicting logics in their everyday practice. The study follows a qualitative approach and is based on views of multiple role players in the audit process of complex companies in Australia, South Africa and the United Kingdom. The study examines auditors’ decision-making involving experts, rotating partners/firms and meeting regulatory inspection requirements. The study adds to the emerging debate around logic multiplicity at the institutional “coalface” by showing that auditors use balancing mechanisms (segmenting, assimilating, bridging and demarcating) to navigate and make sense of coexisting (professional, commercial and accountability) logics. Views of non-auditor role players, mostly overlooked in by institutional research at micro-levels, challenge the institutionalisation of connected logics and question the influence on audit quality.