Since the early 1980s there has been an explosion of auditing activity in the United Kingdom and North America. In addition to financial audits there are now medical audits, technology audits, value for money audits, environmental audits, quality audits, teaching audits, and many others. Why has this happened? What does it mean when a society invests so heavily in an industry of checking and when more and more individuals find themselves subject to formal scrutiny? The Audit Society argues that the rise of auditing has its roots in political demands for accountability and control. At the heart of a new administrative style internal control systems have begun to play an important public role and individual and organizational performance has been increasingly formalized and made auditable. Michael Power argues that the new demands and expectations of audits live uneasily with their operational capabilities. Not only is the manner in which they produce assurance and accountability open to question but also, by imposing their own values, audits often have unintended and dysfunctional consequences for the audited organization.
Michael Power is Professor of Accounting at the LSE, and has been a Lecturer in Accounting and Finance there since 1987. He has also worked as a financial auditor with Deloitte Haskins and Sells where he qualified as a chartered accountant and is a member of the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales. He has also been a fellow of the Wissenschaftskolley zu Berlin. In 1989 he was made an associate member of the United Kingdom of Institute of Taxation and, from 1990, an associate scholar of the European Institute of Advanced Studies in Management, Brussels.