Discussant's Response to
Current Developments in United Kingdom
John H. Fitzgibbon III
Peat, Marwick, Mitchell & Co.
Gwilliam's paper is interesting for two reasons. First, it provides a good account of the current status of auditing research in the U.K. and the reasons why U.K. research has been more limited than U.S. research. Second, the paper provides a basis for analyzing how future changes in the U.K. environment
might affect the level and nature of research performed.
The paper is divided into four sections:
• A summary of research that has been done,
• A discussion of why past research has been so limited,
• A discussion of what U.S. research might be applicable in the U.K., and
• A discussion of what research areas might be most beneficial for U.K. researchers to pursue.
The primary focus of my discussion will be to expand on some of Gwilliam's comments and to provide my own views on the relative importance of some of the matters mentioned in the paper.
Why Has There Been So Little U.K. Auditing Research?
In some respects, the U.K. auditing environment is similar to the U.S. environment approximately 15 years ago. There apparently is very little external pressure on the profession to improve auditing techniques, and, therefore, very little money and effort is being expended on auditing research.
Gwilliam's paper provides a comprehensive description of the characteristics
of the U.K. and the U.S. auditing research environments. For convenience,
I will group these characteristics into three categories—the academic, the auditing firm, and the general business environments.
Gwilliam points out that the U.K. academic environment is not as conducive to auditing research as the U.S. environment. There are fewer accounting faculty, they are not as research oriented, and they are not as well trained in research techniques as their U.S. counterparts. Gwilliam also states that auditing research is not considered to be a prestigious activity and that funding for research is not generally available. All of these factors are disincentives to conducting contemporary auditing research, particularly in "high-tech" areas such as expert systems and decision aids.