The Construction of Auditing Expertise in Measuring Government Performance

Posted: 26 May 2013 Last revised: 27 Jun 2013

See all articles by Yves Gendron

Yves Gendron

Université Laval

David J. Cooper

University of Alberta - Department of Accounting, Operations & Information Systems

Barbara Townley

University of Edinburgh - Business School

Date Written: May 1, 2006

Abstract

Accounting research has increasingly been concerned to investigate professional expertise. This paper contributes to this interest by examining the process by which state (or government) auditors may become recognized as possessing expertise relevant to guiding and implementing new public management reforms. We analyze this process in the Canadian province of Alberta to understand the construction of a claim to expertise, drawing on theories in the social study of science and technology. Specifically, through our study of the development and consolidation of a network of support, we examine how the Office of the Auditor General of Alberta anchored its claims to expertise in the corpus of knowledge on measurement of government performance; the various devices that the Office used to sustain these claims; and the ways in which government and public servants reacted to them. In particular, our paper provides insights into how standards of “good practices” develop through a process of “fact” building, which involves the undertaking of local experiments by practitioners, the production of inscriptions in reports, and their subsequent validation by other practitioners. The production of inscriptions in sites of occupational practice such as those operated by government audit offices, and the collective process of validation that subsequently takes place in the practitioner community, are significant aspects in the construction of networks of support around claims to expertise.

Suggested Citation

Gendron, Yves and Cooper, David J. and Townley, Barbara, The Construction of Auditing Expertise in Measuring Government Performance (May 1, 2006). Accounting, Organizations and Society, Vol. 32, No. 1/2, 2007, University of Alberta School of Business Research Paper No. 2013-142, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2269964

Yves Gendron

Université Laval ( email )

Faculte des sciences de l'administration
2325 rue de la Terrasse, Local 2636
Quebec City, Quebec G1V 0A6
Canada
418-656-2131 ext. 2431 (Phone)
418-656-7746 (Fax)

David J. Cooper (Contact Author)

University of Alberta - Department of Accounting, Operations & Information Systems ( email )

Edmonton, Alberta T6G 2R6
Canada

Barbara Townley

University of Edinburgh - Business School ( email )

University of Edinburgh
29 Buccleuch Place
Edinburgh, Scotland EH8 9JS
United Kingdom

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