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Auditor Face‐Work at the Annual General Meeting
Stockholm University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Stockholm Business School, Accounting.
Stockholm University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Stockholm Business School, Accounting.
2018 (English)In: Contemporary Accounting Research, ISSN 0823-9150, E-ISSN 1911-3846, Vol. 35, no 1, p. 365-393Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

This paper examines how auditors prepare for the annual general meeting (AGM) and how they report their work to the shareholders there. Prior literature has suggested—but not explicitly studied—that the endpoint of an audit is a state of comfort between the auditor and the management and audit committee members, but also is potentially fragile. The fragility can arise from a failure to relay trust to the investor community, which may initiate or increase doubts about the financial report and/or the auditor's independence. We build the case that an AGM is an event to study how the endpoint of an audit engagement is both a state of collective comfort and a fragile state. The analysis is based on ten interviews and three workshops with auditors as well as observations at 67 AGMs. To analyze the field material, the paper draws on Goffman's idea of face‐work, which requires backstage preparations, notably with management, and a front stage performance as an independent auditor to relay trust to the shareholders. The paper details how auditors at the AGM perform as independent verifiers of the management's financial report. Although we recorded that auditors were typically successful in preventing the backstage activities from becoming visible to the shareholders, we found incidents that challenged both the auditors' and the managements' face. In analyzing these incidents, we found that auditors reinforced their image as independent to regain both their own face and the management's face. The management did not take a similar collective responsibility for the auditor's face, which implies that auditors were asymmetrically committed to the management. As a take‐away, the paper discusses how governance mechanisms backstage are linked and can surface front stage at the AGM.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2018. Vol. 35, no 1, p. 365-393
National Category
Business Administration
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-164167DOI: 10.1111/1911-3846.12391OAI: oai:DiVA.org:su-164167DiVA, id: diva2:1278388
Funder
The Jan Wallander and Tom Hedelius FoundationAvailable from: 2019-01-14 Created: 2019-01-14 Last updated: 2019-01-15Bibliographically approved

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CiteExportLink to record
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