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How do auditors navigate conflicting logics in everyday practice?

Barac, Karin; Gammie, Elizabeth; Howieson, Bryan; Van Staden, Marianne


Karin Barac

Bryan Howieson

Marianne Van Staden


Historically professional logic has shaped accountancy, increasingly it has been shaped also by commercial logic. This study moves beyond these distinctions for a better and more nuanced analyses of how actors (Big 4 auditors) navigate conflicting logics in their everyday practice. The study follows a qualitative approach and is based on views of multiple role players in the audit process of complex companies in Australia, South Africa and the United Kingdom. The study examines auditors’ decision-making involving experts, rotating partners/firms and meeting regulatory inspection requirements. The study adds to the emerging debate around logic multiplicity at the institutional ‘coalface’ by showing that auditors use balancing mechanisms (segmenting, assimilating, bridging and demarcating) to navigate and make sense of coexisting (professional, commercial and accountability) logics. Views of non-auditor role players, mostly overlooked in by institutional research at micro-levels, challenge the institutionalisation of connected logics and question the influence on audit quality.


BARAC, K., GAMMIE, E., HOWIESON, B. and VAN STADEN, M. 2019. How do auditors navigate conflicting logics in everyday practice? Professions and professionalism [online], 9(3), article ID e2916. Available from:

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Oct 10, 2019
Online Publication Date Dec 9, 2019
Publication Date Dec 10, 2019
Deposit Date Nov 11, 2019
Publicly Available Date Nov 11, 2019
Journal Professions and professionalism
Electronic ISSN 1893-1049
Publisher Høgskolen i Oslo og Akershus
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 9
Issue 3
Article Number e2916
Keywords Institutional logics; Audit quality; Audit experts; Firm rotation; Regulatory inspections
Public URL


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