IGAP Research Projects

IGAP Research Projects

Governance: Organisational Accountability and Transparency

The nature and role of audit committees

Team

Goals

This project examines how the roles, characteristics, expectations and evaluation practices of audit committees adapted to legislative change, and what practices are most conducive to effective audit committees. Although based on Australian cases, the study seeks to identify common elements of effective audit committees, with international implications.

Method

Semi-structured interviews with audit committee chairs and chief audit executives in ASX-300 organisations.


Not-for-profit governance and the limits of agency theory

Team

Funding

Funded by MQ New Staff Grant

Goals

Analysis of how NFP's manage demands for accountability from different stakeholders.  Focus in particular on capacity of NFP's to be accountable when increasingly delivering key social services once delivered by state.

Method

Interviews with a cross-section of participants in the NFP sector, including Directors,CEOs, managers, regulators and front-line staff; and, qualitative content analysis of public documents. The project will also benchmark NFP governance legislation against international alternatives.


Corporate Governance codes: an international comparison

Team

Funding

CPA Australia

Collaboration

CPA Australia

Goals

This project is based on an international comparison of corporate governance codes and principles

Method

Analysis of international corporate governance codes


Non-financial / Integrated Reporting and Assurance

Internal Assurance and Consulting on Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) Information

Team

Funding

Macquarie University (MQ)

Collaboration

Institute of Internal Auditors

Goals

This study investigates the nature and extent of internal audit's involvement in assurance and/or consulting engagements in environmental, social and governance (ESG) areas in the current Australian context.  The study also examines the relationship between a number of key factors (e.g. size, industry, audit committee independence and expertise, etc.) and the likelihood of internal audit's involvement in ESG assurance and/or consulting.

Method

A sequential two-stage data collection method will be employed in this study. Data will be initially collected through a survey and supplemented /corroborated with interviews to provide in-depth insights into specific selected aspects of interest identified in the survey results.


Transitioning to Integrated Reporting (IR): Issues and strategies for combining sustainability reporting with (IR)

Team

Goals

Integrated Reporting (IR) is fast emerging as one of the most influential models of non-financial reporting, yet there has been little research into the underlying objectives and strategies of IR and how it interacts with other non-financial reporting frameworks. This project aims to clarify the function and strategies of IR relative to other frameworks for reporting non-financial information, and to provide guidance to professionals and organisations transitioning to from existing sustainability reporting approaches, such as the Global Reporting Initiative.

Method

Qualitative content analysis of reporting frameworks from the IIRC, GRI, A4S and King Committee on Corporate Governance.


Balancing Organisational and Professional Obligations in Management Accounting

Team

Funding

CIMA Centre of Excellence / Internal (MQ) Early Career Researcher Grant

Goals

Analysis of how Management Accountants balance their obligations to advance their organizations' goals with their ethical professional obligations to serve the public interest.

Method

In-depth interviews with management accountants and management accounting academics, and analysis using models of professional identity and ethics drawn from other professional fields.


Lifting the Lid on Integrated Reporting (IR) in Australia

Team

Funding

Funded by ICAA / Chartered Accountants Australia and New Zealand (CAANZ)

Collaboration

Wendy Stubbs, (Monash University)
Colin Higgins, (Deakin University)

Goals

The project is developing the first longitudinal analysis of how IR has impacted organisations reporting and management practices over time.

Method

Interviews and case- studies with selected organisations that have most successfully used IR to change reporting and management practices


Craftsmanship and Cleaning Work

Team

Collaboration

MQ (Centre for Workforce Futures)

Goals

Study of the role of intrinsic motivational of cleaning workers relative to external controls.

Method

Analysis of in-depth interviews of workers, managers and clients in the contract cleaning industry in NSW.


Critical Discourse Analysis in social and environmental accounting (SEA) research

Team

Funding

Internally (MQ) funded by $5,000 research starter grant

Collaboration

Corrine Cortese (University of Wollongong)

Goals

Analysis of the role and function of the critical discourse analysis method in promoting the goals of social and environmental accounting

Method

Structured literature review and analysis of Critical Discourse methodology


Investigation of the Skills and Capabilities Required for Professional Accountants to Effectively Engage in Integrated Reporting

Team

Funding

CAANZ

Goals

This project aims to advance knowledge of the practical implications of Integrated Reporting (IR) through the construction of an exploratory framework explicating the professional skills and capabilities needed by current and future accounting and assurance professionals to deliver on the integrated nature of IR.

Method

Interviews with targeted members of the IR pilot organisations across Australia and New Zealand and thought leader representatives from the professional accounting bodies (ICAA and CPA), Governance Institute of Australia, the Society for Knowledge Economics (SKE) and the BRLF.


Assurance of Natural Resource Management

Team

Funding

PhD HDR Macquarie University

Collaboration

The Natural Resources Commission (NRC).

Goals

The main aim of the research project is to explore various aspects of the development and implementation of audit and assurance processes and practices emerging within an Australian public sector organisation, the Natural Resources Commission (NRC).

Method

The NRC was established under the Natural Resources Commission Act 2003 (the NRC Act) to provide the NSW Government with independent advice on natural resource management. The NRC comprises the Commissioner and an Assistant Commissioner where the Commissioner is responsible for ensuring compliance with the NRC Act and the Assistant Commissioner and Executive Director support the Commissioner in formulating the NRC's advice to government. The Executive Director leads a small team of staff, namely analysts that are responsible for implementing the Commission's programs, administrative and financial affairs in accordance with the Act.

This project is a longitudinal (three year) case study of the NRC. Data is being collected from multiple sources such as: minutes of critical meetings, management letters, audit working papers, publicly available reports, observation of critical executive meetings, audit fieldwork and interviews with key internal and external stakeholders in addition to informal discussions with key NRC staff.


Business models in Integrated Reporting

Team

Funding

Macquarie University‚Äč

Collaboration

Prof. Neilsen leads the Business Model Design Center (BMDC) at Aalborg University, Denmark.

Goals

To clarify the function and structure of the business model in Integrated Reporting in light of the development of alternative business models over the past 20 years.

Method

Structured comparative analysis of shifts in key business model elements in influential business models, with a particular focus on positioning the IIRC's new model within this development.


Financial Reporting and Assurance

The Drivers of Audit Quality

Team

Funding

Macquarie University Enterprise Partnership Scheme and the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA UK)

Collaboration

Professional accounting bodies

Goals

Prior research has identified a number of audit firm and audit team attributes that are considered to be important in assessments of audit quality. However, little is known about which audit firm and the audit team attributes are relatively more important in perceptions of audit quality. This study investigates the relative importance of audit firm and audit team attributes to the perceptions of audit quality utilising key participant groups in the market of audit services as the primary data source.

Method

A customised online survey questionnaire constructed using Adaptive Conjoint Analysis administered to volunteer participants from three key groups of audit market participants: auditors, CFOs and directors.


The Critical Role of Effective Audit Teams on Audit Quality at an Engagement Level

Team

Funding

CAANZ (previously ICAA)

Collaboration

CAANZ (previously ICAA)

Goals

The aim of this project is to examine the critical characteristics of effective audit teams, their processes, and how they influence audit quality at an engagement level. It specifically looks at critical audit team characteristics (structure and composition), the nature of the teams' task, audit team processes and the identification of teamwork skills for team effectiveness, and the influence of these on audit quality.

Method

Initial interviews followed by a survey with audit team members across different levels of seniority ranging from the analyst to a manager from a selected number of Big 4 and medium firms in Brisbane, Melbourne and Sydney.


Familiarity and Efficiency in Different Audit regimes: A Comparison between Tax Auditors and Financial Statement Auditors

Team

Funding

Vienna University of Economics and Business is funding all data collection

Collaboration

Professor Ewald Aschauer Vienna University of Economics and Business

Goals

In the financial audit setting it is assumed that the current regulation leads to increased familiarity between the auditor and the auditee but also to higher efficiency of the audit process. However, little is known about how different environmental settings impact on the auditor selection, the audit process and audit quality. This study investigates the effects of different institutional settings and audit input factors (auditors' professional trait scepticism, auditors' professional identification, the auditor client relationship) on audit quality.

Method

Surveying financial auditors and tax auditors in Germany and Austria


The nature and role of audit committees

Team

Goals

This project examines how the roles, characteristics, expectations and evaluation practices of audit committees adapted to legislative change, and what practices are most conducive to effective audit committees. Although based on Australian cases, the study seeks to identify common elements of effective audit committees, with international implications.

Method

Semi-structured interviews with audit committee chairs and chief audit executives in ASX-300 organisations.


How professional audit scepticism is conceptualised

Team

Funding

CAANZ

Goals

In light of the significance of professional scepticism in audit quality, this project clarifies what professional scepticism is and how firms and professional organisations can cultivate the trait of professional scepticism over time.

Method

Semi-structured interviews with senior audit practitioners, analysed within a neo-Aristotelian framework of the conditions of character development.


Professional audit scepticism in audit engagements

Team

Funding

CAANZ

Collaboration

CAANZ

Goals

This study has two main aims: 

  1. To examine how and to what extent engagement partners and individual auditors apply sceptical judgment and sceptical action at audit engagement level, and,
  2. To identify the extent to which specific factors in the application of sceptical judgment and sceptical action in audit engagements are attributable to:
    1. Auditors,
    2. Evidence,
    3. Clients and
    4. The external environment.

Method

Survey of auditors ranging from analysts to partners in Big 4 and medium audit firms.


Continuous Assurance and Data Analytics

Team

Collaboration

Professor Miklos Vasarhelyi (Rutgers Accounting Research Centre (RARC) and Continuous Auditing and Reporting Lab (CAR Lab)

Goals

TBA

Method

The project is based on semi-structured interviews with senior audit practitioners, analysed within a neo-Aristotelian framework of the conditions of character development.


Work Health and Safety

The Role of Accounting in Work Health and Safety (WHS) Governance (Pilot Project)

Team

Funding

CPA Australia,
SWA,
Macquarie University Enterprise Partnerships Scheme,
SIA (in-kind).

Collaboration

Karen Wolfe (SIA / ANSTO)

Goals

The research explores the role of accounting in WHS governance. This exploratory study seeks to identify: what WHS performance information is captured within different organisations and how that performance information is employed to inform operational and governance decisions. In essence, this study seeks a practical understanding of the current role of accounting and accountants in the exercise of officers' due diligence and WHS governance. The findings are expected to provide important insights to help inform the development of evidence-based strategies for improving WHS governance. It is also anticipated that the findings will identify issues for further, in-depth, research.

Method

Detailed case studies are being conducted in eight organisations to examine practices of WHS governance and the role of accounting in that process. These organisations range from very small (sole trader) to very large (multinational) organisations and span a range of industries including construction, manufacturing, pharmaceutical, entertainment, education, environmental and professional services. The findings are informing a series of four discussion papers (see Safe Work Australia website) and a final report on Accounting for WHS Governance.


Testing and Evaluating the Draft Work Health and Safety (WHS) Indicators and Guidelines

Team

Funding

Safe Work Australia (SWA) and ANSTO (in-kind).

Collaboration

Karen Wolfe ANSTO / Safety Institute of Australia (SIA), Safe Work Australia (SWA)

Goals

This research  extends the International Governance and Performance (IGAP) Research Centre's' WHS Indicators' research study. The indicators project focused on identifying key WHS indicators from the literature, describing their appropriate application and developing Guidelines to assist report preparers communicate WHS information to users both internal and external to an organisation.

The aim of this project is to test the practicality of the draft guidelines by seeking detailed feedback on the recommendations contained in the document and user perceptions of their practical implementation and usefulness.

Method

This research is being conducted in two stages. In Stage 1, the draft WHS Guidelines are pilot tested via a series of case studies. These will permit an in-depth examination of the way users interpret and implement the document's recommendations. They will explore user perceptions as to the quality (relevance, validity, reliability) of recommended indicators and their feedback regarding practical issues, benefits and limitations arising from the implementation of the recommended reporting processes. This feedback will be instrumental in ensuring the WHS Guidelines are clear, relevant and practical. In Stage 2, feedback is sought on the revised WHS Guidelines from a much larger sample of potential users. Data is gathered through a series of workshops and / or webinars, each accompanied by a series of online survey instruments. A secondary aim of stage two is to evaluate the effectiveness of alternate methods for publicly disseminating research outcomes.


Developing a set of National Guidelines for Evaluating and Reporting Occupational Injury and Disease (aka: WHS Indicators)

Team

Funding

Safety Institute of Australia (SIA),
ICAA,
SWA

Collaboration

Karen Wolfe, (Safety Institute of Australia (SIA)), Safe Work Australia (SWA)

Goals

To explore the WHS information needs of key stakeholders; to identify practical limitations of existing metrics for providing useful information for decision-making; to consider appropriate WHS lead and lag performance measures and indictors for capturing and benchmarking WHS performance on a National and International scale; and to draft a guidance document that identifies those indicators most relevant to various key user groups.

Method

This project commenced with a detailed review of academic and practitioner literature to identify existing WHS measures and their reported applications and limitations. Additional information about stakeholder needs, contemporary reporting performance measurement practices was gathered through online stakeholder surveys.

This data helped identify key WHS metrics and develop a conceptual framework for WHS evaluation and reporting. A broad structure was then proposed for a WHS Reporting Guidelines document. Feedback on the proposal was then sought through a stakeholder engagement workshop with 50 WHS practitioners, consultants,academics and regulators. The research team then  drafted the 'WHS Reporting Guidelines' which aims to assist decision-makers in the collection and analysis of WHS performance data and to guide the inclusion of WHS information in internal and external reports.


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