The disruption of blockchain in auditing – a systematic literature review and an agenda for future research

24 Aug 2021

PURPOSE : This paper presents a systematic literature review, including content and bibliometric analyses, of the impact of blockchain technology (BT) in auditing, to identify trends, research areas and construct an agenda for future research. DESIGN/METHODOLOGY/APPROACH : The authors include studies from 2010 to 2020 in their structured literature review (SLR), using accounting journals on the Scopus database, which yielded 40 articles with blockchain and auditing at its core. FINDINGS : One of the contributions of the authors’ analyses is to group the prior research, and therefore also the agenda for future research, into three main research areas: (1) Blockchain as a tool for auditing professionals to improve business information systems to save time and prevent fraud; (2) Smart contracts enabling Audit 4.0 efficiency, reporting, disclosure and transparency; (3) Cryptocurrency and initial coin offerings (ICOs) as a springboard for corporate governance and new venture financing. The authors’ findings have several important implications for practice and theory. PRACTICAL IMPLICATIONS : The results of this study emphasise that (1) the disruption of blockchain in auditing is in a nascent phase and there is a need for compelling empirical studies and potential for the involvement of practitioners; (2) there may be a need to reconsider audit procedures especially suited for digitalisation and BT adoption; (3) standards, guidelines and training are required to pivot towards and confront the challenge BT will represent for auditing; and (4) there are two sides to the BT coin for auditing, enthusiasm about the potential and risk upon implementation. These practical implications can also be seen as a template for future research in a quest to align theory and practice. ORIGINALITY/VALUE : The authors’ SLR facilitates the identification of research areas and implications, forming a useful baseline for practitioners, professionals and academics, as they draft the state of the art on the disruption of blockchain in auditing, highlighting how BT is changing auditing activities and traditions.