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The Auditor's Role: The Philosophy and Psychology of Independence and Objectivity James C. Gaa* McMaster University The auditor, like any professional man, has a responsibility to the society that recognizes and encourages his professional status as well as to the clients he serves directly. It behooves us, therefore, to give some attention to this responsibility. What is the social function of the auditor? What responsibilities flow from it? Mautz and Sharaf, 1961, p. 50 The independent auditor's role in society is described by both his function—what he does— and his relationships to parties interested in that function. Cohen Commission, 1978, p. 1 The essence of all professions—including public accounting—lies in the expertise of its members. ... A characteristic of the auditing profession is then a unique knowledge-set or expertise. Bedard, 1989, p. 113 Introduction The role of the "independent" auditor has been controversial off and on for many years. For over 100 years, auditors have been defendants in civil lawsuits, charged with failing to perform their job in accordance with their obligations to others. Over roughly the last sixty years (i.e., since the debates giving rise to the Securities and Exchange Commission in the U.S.), there have also been periodic political controversies regarding the public's expectations about what auditors are supposed to be doing, and whether they are delivering the goods. Since Mautz and Sharaf wrote their words, the formerly all-male world of auditing has changed significantly. However, their observations on the social role of auditors are still as current—and as little resolved—as they were thirty years ago. Indeed, the issues they raise are just as important as they were then, if not more so. Mautz and Sharaf pointed out that the overall problem of the auditor's role breaks down into two parts: what service auditors are supposed to perform, and for whom they are supposed to be doing it. Controversies seem to focus more on the former (e.g., concerning the scope of public accountants' services to *The author wishes to thank Efrim Boritz, John Gaa, Cindy Moeckel, Khalid Nainar, Lawrence Ponemon, Robert Ruland, Ira Solomon, Michael Stein, and Wil Waluchow for helpful comments and suggestions made at various stages in the preparation of this paper. They are not responsible for its content. The research reported in this paper is supported by a grant from the CGA-Canada Research Foundation, which is gratefully acknowledged. 7
Auditor's role: The philosophy and psychology of independence and objectivity
Gaa, James C.
Srivastava, Rajendra P., ed.
Auditors -- Professional ethics
Auditing -- Standards
Auditing Symposium XI: Proceedings of the 1992 Deloitte & Touche/University of Kansas Symposium on Auditing Problems, pp. 007-043
|Source||Published by: University of Kansas, School of Business|
|Rights||Contents have not been copyrighted|
|Format||PDF page image with corrected OCR scanned at 400 dpi|
|Collection||Deloitte Digital Collection|
|Digital Publisher||University of Mississippi Library. Accounting Collection|