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Title: Adoption of generalised audit software (GAS) by external auditors in the UK
Author: Ahmi, Aidi
ISNI:       0000 0004 2738 0066
Awarding Body: Brunel University
Current Institution: Brunel University
Date of Award: 2012
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This research is motivated by the interest in understanding the usage of the Generalised Audit Software (GAS) by external auditors within public accounting firms. GAS is a tool used by auditors to automate various audit tasks. It helps auditors to analyse accounting data electronically where it is quite impossible to do so manually. GAS is claimed to be the most influential Computer Assisted Audit Tools and Technique (CAATTs) that can facilitate the audit objective. However, research has found that there is little evidence that auditors have extensively adopted GAS. Even greater benefits have been promoted since the existence of GAS, but auditors do not really seem to be interested in this tool. Most previous studies have focused on either internal auditors, large accounting firms, other countries or merely adopters of GAS. However, there is little evidence that the study of GAS has been conducted on external auditors, especially in small and medium sized accounting firms in the United Kingdom (UK). This study helps to fill this gap by exploring the use of GAS among them, and covers both adopters and non-adopters of GAS. Through an online survey using both close and open-ended questions, this issue has been investigated among registered statutory auditors. The primary aim of this study is to explore the current usage of GAS and to understand the factors that influence the use of GAS as well as the perceptions and expectations of using GAS. The views are gathered from both auditors who are already implementing GAS and those who are not using GAS. A framework was developed to identify a range of relevant factors which are important when considering the application of GAS. Responses from 205 statutory auditors across the UK were then mapped against the framework. Of the 14 variables used to test the factors that influence the use of GAS, only six of them are found to be significant from logistic regression analysis. These are firm size, experience of auditors in computerised auditing, organisational influence, client factor, audit engagement allocation and perceived usefulness. The findings show that the utilisations of GAS is unusually low among audit firms in the UK. Almost 73% of external auditors make no use of GAS, due to the limited perceived benefit of using GAS for auditing small clients. While some respondents recognised the advantages of GAS, they were put off by what they believed to be high implementation costs; the significant learning curve and adoption process; and lack of ease of use. Some auditors expressed their awareness of GAS, but most of them showed a preference for using traditional auditing methods instead. A few problems have also been identified in causing the limitation of GAS usage. This study contributes to the literature on suggestions to improve the use of GAS that can be used by small and medium sized public accounting firm, which is lacking in existing research related to this group. In sum, this study has deepened current understanding of the GAS usage among small and medium sized audit firms in the UK, and has provided useful insights for audit professionals, software developers, vendors, standards setters, academicians and researchers. This study has also opened up the possibilities for further study on GAS or related areas either in the UK or other places in the world.
Supervisor: Kent, S.; Lycett, M. Sponsor: Universiti Utara Malaysia ; Ministry of Higher Education of Malaysia
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Generalised audit software ; External auditors ; Computerised auditing ; Technology adoption ; Computerised assisted audit tools and techniques