Public sector performance audits: stakeholder interpretations of impact

Schmitz, J 2019, Public sector performance audits: stakeholder interpretations of impact, Doctor of Philosophy (PhD), Accounting, RMIT University.

Document type: Thesis
Collection: Theses

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Title Public sector performance audits: stakeholder interpretations of impact
Author(s) Schmitz, J
Year 2019
Abstract Given the growth and pervasiveness of performance auditing in Australia, it is important to understand the nature of its impacts on stakeholders who are influenced and affected by such audits. Yet extant studies have focused on impact measurement without empirically addressing how performance audit impacts are defined and the factors conditioning such definitions. This study clarifies what multiple key stakeholder groups of performance auditing i.e. auditees, performance auditors, parliamentarians and journalists, understand as performance audit impact. Focused on performance audits reported in Victoria within 2009/2010 to 2015/2016, a sequential three stage mixed-method approach was adopted consisting of document analysis, a survey questionnaire and in-depth semi-structured interviews. Drawing on New Institutional Sociology informed by accountability dimensions as theoretical underpinning, this study demonstrates that managerial, political and public accountability relationships between key stakeholders affect their interpretations of impact. While not all stakeholders feel accountable to other groups, their interpretations of impact appear to be driven by the endeavour to obtain and maintain legitimacy from other key stakeholders for their operations. Empirical explanations have further disclosed that stakeholder interpretations of impact are dependent on their perceived usefulness of performance audits. As opposed to prior studies, this research shows that particularly complex and reform-like changes, if considered timely and necessary, are perceived as useful and therefore impactful. Findings also demonstrate that certain impact definitions provided by different key stakeholder groups are similar, whereas others vary. Besides the more detailed elaboration on previously defined impacts, this research contributes to performance audit literature by affording new definitions of impact and impact-facilitating factors. Providing a comprehensive understanding of the impacts of performance audits among key stakeholder groups, this study makes operational contribution to performance audit practice of Australian Auditors-General Offices and the way in which performance audit outcomes are administered by audited public sector organisations.
Degree Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
Institution RMIT University
School, Department or Centre Accounting
Subjects Auditing and Accountability
Keyword(s) Public sector
Performance auditing
Performance audit impact
New Institutional Sociology
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Created: Wed, 04 Dec 2019, 08:37:03 EST by Adam Rivett
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