Impression management and Big Four auditors : Scrutiny at a public inquiry

Dunne, Neil J. and Brennan, Niamh M. and Kirwan, Collette E. (2021) Impression management and Big Four auditors : Scrutiny at a public inquiry. Accounting, Organizations and Society, 88. ISSN 0361-3682

Full text not available from this repository. (Request a copy)


To examine how Big Four auditors react to public scrutiny, we explore their evidence at a public inquiry on the Irish banking crisis. We use impression management theory to make sense of this evidence. By extending Goffman to a contemporary auditing context, we mobilize less-researched aspects of his dramaturgical framework. Drawing upon the prior literature, we develop a typology for examining how Big Four auditors impression-manage on a ‘frontstage’. Using meaning-oriented content analysis, we apply our typology to Big Four auditors’ public-inquiry evidence. Our findings indicate that Big Four auditors convey the following four impressions: (1) their hands are clean (i.e., they are not to blame for audit failure); (2) their hands were tied (i.e., they were powerless to prevent audit failure); (3) their work was good; and (4) their intentions are good. We conclude the paper by linking these four impressions to the professional beancounter character, and by considering whether the Big Four's impression management succeeded in influencing their audience. Identifying impression management by Big Four auditors provides insights into their beliefs, ambitions and concerns, and on how they regard clients, regulators and the general public.

Item Type: Article
Additional Information: Funding Information: We thank participants for their helpful comments at the Asia Pacific Interdisciplinary Perspectives on Accounting (APIRA) 2019 Conference; British Accounting & Finance Association 2016 Conference; European Accounting Association 2019 Conference; Financial Reporting and Business Communication 2018 Conference; Irish Accounting & Finance Association 2017 and 2018 conferences and seminars at Auckland University of Technology, the University of Bradford and Instituto Universit?rio de Lisboa. We also gratefully acknowledge the comments and suggestions of Editor-in-Chief, Professor Keith Robson, and the two anonymous reviewers. Publisher Copyright: © 2020 The Authors
Uncontrolled Keywords: /dk/atira/pure/subjectarea/asjc/1400/1402
Departments or Groups:
Depositing User: Admin SSL
Date Deposited: 19 Oct 2022 23:13
Last Modified: 11 Aug 2023 16:05

Actions (login required)

View Item View Item