Since the early 1980s there has been an explosion of auditing activity in the United Kingdom and North America. In addition to financial audits there are now medical audits, technology audits, value for money audits, environmental audits, quality audits, teaching audits, and many others. Why has this happened? What does it mean when a society invests so heavily in an industry of checking and when more and more individuals find themselves subject to formal scrutiny?
The Audit Society argues that the rise of auditing has its roots in political demands for accountability and control. At the heart of a new administrative style internal control
systems have begun to play an important public role and individual and organizational performance has been increasingly formalized and made auditable. Michael Power argues that the new demands and expectations of audits live uneasily with their operational capabilities. Not only is the manner in which they produce assurance and accountability open to question but also, by imposing their own values, audits often have unintended and dysfunctional consequences for the audited organization.
`Review from previous edition The book appears just when we need it ... a valuable book.'
`This splendid book tracks what has been happening to the auditing profession in the context of the recent 'managerial turn' ... This is a breath of fresh air.'
`This book is valuable precisely because of the obscurity of its subject. Very little has been written about the purpose, context, or process of auditing. This book, therefore, fills a gap. I would recommend this book for managers and physicians interested in understanding and appraising more critically the role of audit in their ogranisations.'
Lois Quam, BMJ Volume 316, 1998
`This is a book for the times. It will resonate instantly with hard-pressed UK public-sector professionals. It is wide-ranging and perceptive, showing the fruitfulness of Power's original training in critical philosophy combined with his later specialization in financial accounting. The book provides the most coherent challenge to the audit explosion that has been offered to date.'
Christopher Hood. Journal of Public Policy. 18/1/1998.
`..subtle, stimulating and important book.'
Rudolf Klein. University of Bath. 1998.
1: The Audit Society: General Themes
2: The Rise of Audit
3: The Audit Explosion
4: Audit and the Dialectic of Regulatory Failure
5: Audit Knowledge and the Construction of Auditees
6: Beyond Audit, Towards Trust