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date: 10 August 2020

Abstract and Keywords

This article revisits the main elements of the theory of the audit explosion, critically addressing the extent to which its claims have relevance beyond the UK context. The argument begins with the traditional model of auditing, against which the transformations implied by the audit explosion theory can be evaluated. This is followed by a broad, and no doubt familiar, account of the public management reforms which have, in some countries and in some domains, been strongly associated with an audit explosion. Third, an explicit comparison between the UK and the USA is made and its implications for the theory are considered. The second half of the article shifts to the critical focus of the theory of the audit explosion. First, the significance of auditable systems of control for the expansion of audit processes is emphasized. Second, a variety of adverse consequences of the audit explosion are addressed. The article concludes with a series of reflections on the normative issues at stake in the design of auditing and inspection practices if the worst excesses of the audit explosion are to be avoided.

Keywords: audit explosion, auditing model, public management, management reforms, inspection practices, audit processes

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