What is good performance? Performing independent performance auditing
(English)Manuscript (preprint) (Other academic)
This paper reports from a study of how performance is stabilized by the Swedish National Audit Office (SNAO) in its audit reports. The paper builds on all the 206 reports published by the SNAO from its inauguration in 2003 until 2010 and analyzes the (28) audit of substance reports (Pollitt, Girre et al. 1999). By investigating the ways in which the SNAO makes it possible to answer the question of what constitutes good performance in the public sector, the paper suggests that the audit institution operates in three phases. In phase one, the SNAO must address the controversial task of defining performance. In phase two, this definition is tested by obtaining for creating evidence. In the third phase, the auditors mobilize benchmarks as a means to argue for good (or poor) performance. Unlike the arguments posed by the International Organization of Supreme Audit Institutions about using common sense to evaluate good performance, SNAO audit reports include arguments about what is “good” that emanate from other actors. The analysis of the paper builds on some analytical tools from Actor Network Theory. Specifically, the idea of a linguistic actor is developed and used as a means to show how the concept of “independence” helps the audit institution to become Mr. Somebody but impedes the possibilities of producing an answer to the question to what constitutes good performance.
Audit, performance, audit independence
Research subject Business Administration
IdentifiersURN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-83421OAI: oai:DiVA.org:su-83421DiVA: diva2:575720
EAA Annual Congress 2013