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The changing constellations of audit quality

Toh, Dorothy (2016) The changing constellations of audit quality. PhD thesis, London School of Economics and Political Science.

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This thesis examines the emergence and rise of audit quality as an object of concern from the post-war period onwards, as manifested in the discourse of regulators, practitioners and academics primarily in the US and the UK. By drawing upon Burchell et al’s (1985) notions of the arena and the constellation, this thesis seeks to investigate the changing nature of the audit quality ‘problem’ and in so doing, reconceptualises the constellation as being dynamic in nature. It puts forward the notions of the emergent constellation, when an altogether new arena becomes formulated through the emergence of a new event or object and the reformation constellation, when an existing field of operations becomes further delineated or differentiated into more distinct arenas. Central to this dynamism is the notion of linkages, and the precise nature of the linking work entailed, which connect together disparate ideas and attach these to the audit quality discourse. Together, this thesis aims to contribute to our understanding of audit quality, the interrelationship between the three arenas of regulation, practice and academia, and of accounting change. Ultimately, this thesis will show that audit quality, a topic of profound and resilient interest, should be understood primarily, and merely, as a basis through which very particular sets of historically contingent concerns and practices are articulated, and that efforts to measure and improve audit quality are fraught with difficulties. Indeed, the attempts to do so play a role in shifting the conceptualisation of the audit quality problem and are consequently, and in this sense, susceptible to continual failure. An alternate interpretation of the importance and meaning of this rise of audit quality, beyond and irrespective of the large scale failures and crises, is an alignment with the trend of economization in society.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Additional Information: © 2016 Dorothy Toh
Library of Congress subject classification: H Social Sciences > HG Finance
Sets: Departments > Accounting
Supervisor: Power, Michael and Mennicken, Andrea

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