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How Corrupt Are Universities? Audit Culture, Fraud Prevention, and the Big Four Accountancy Firms
Stockholm University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Stockholm Centre for Organizational Research (SCORE). University of Auckland, New Zealand.
Number of Authors: 12018 (English)In: Current Anthropology, ISSN 0011-3204, E-ISSN 1537-5382, Vol. 59, p. s92-S104Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Corruption narratives, like witchcraft accusations, offer a lens for analyzing social relations, economic interests, and hidden structures of power. Developing this theme, I examine discourses of corruption in the context of growing concerns about fraud prevention and anti-corruption in universities. Moving beyond critiques of university administrations as bureaucratic, self-serving entities whose interests are increasingly antithetical to the academic mission of the university, I ask, What is corruption in academia and how does this assumed problem relate to academic capitalism and the rise of audit culture? The empirical context for my study is the extraordinary increase in institutionalized fraud prevention programs, particularly those offered by the Big Four accountancy firms. Taking as my case study the introduction of a whistle-blower hotline at one Australasian university, I examine the politics and interests behind such schemes. The increasing involvement of accountancy firms in nonauditing work, including anti-corruption services, illustrates how corruption narratives operate as market-making strategies. I examine how commercialization, risk management, and auditing proliferate anti-corruption initiatives and how audit firms collude in the risk and corruption that they claim to ameliorate. I conclude by assessing the implications for the anthropology of corruption of the growing penetration of universities by an increasingly commercially focused tax industry that, some argue, cannot even be trusted to regulate itself.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2018. Vol. 59, p. s92-S104
National Category
Sociology
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-156759DOI: 10.1086/695833ISI: 000430218400010OAI: oai:DiVA.org:su-156759DiVA, id: diva2:1218446
Conference
Wenner-Gren Foundation Symposium on The Anthropology of Corruption, Sintra, Portugal, September 09-15, 2016
Available from: 2018-06-14 Created: 2018-06-14 Last updated: 2018-06-14Bibliographically approved

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CiteExportLink to record
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Citation style
  • apa
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