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Title: Intra-professional conflict in the Greek auditing profession : liberalisation and its impact on auditor behaviour
Author: Caramanis, Constantinos V.
Awarding Body: University of Edinburgh
Current Institution: University of Edinburgh
Date of Award: 1996
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This study examines the intense intra-professional conflict which arose over the question of the liberalisation of the Greek auditing profession in 1992. The main rival groups in this conflict were a group of indigenous auditors who resisted the liberalisation and local branches of international accounting firms who fought for reform. The critical paradigm on accounting professionalism is used to understand the wider social, economic, and political context in which change in the Greek auditing profession occurred. The analysis shows that the structure of the auditing profession in Greece is the outcome of a dynamic interplay of economic, social, and political forces, at both the national and the international level. In the encounters between these interests, state agencies and professional groups play a key role. An important theme of the study is to enquire into the practical impact of the liberalisation on the emphasis accorded by practitioners to the performance of various audit functions. Thus, the study also attempts to examine the potential impact of changes which resulted from the political struggle at the macro-level on the behaviour of micro-level actors. The perceptions of auditors, corporate financial executives, and users of audit reports were surveyed through mail questionnaire and personal interviews. The results of the investigation reveal a considerable divergence in the perceptions of the respondent groups, in relation to the effects of liberalisation. This divergence is explained as being the result of self-interested bias. It is suggested that through the responses to the survey respondent groups attempted to advance and promote their own perspective on the auditing profession. The survey results reinforce the conclusions drawn from the historical analysis, by illuminating the deeply political nature of the affairs of the Greek auditing profession and its socially constructed and contextually dependent character. This study has methodological implications for conducting accounting research in sensitive areas which touch on vested self-interests. The analysis presents evidence which suggests that the use of quantitative mail questionnaires in such contexts is not a wholly effective research tool; it fails to capture important exogenous factors, such as respondents' perceived self-interest, which could significantly influence the responses of participants. The study confirms that the employment of a combination of quantitative and qualitative research tools is a more fruitful approach for conducting research in politically charged contexts. Finally, the results of the study have implications for audit practice. The findings suggest that following the liberalisation, auditors gave significantly less emphasis to: a) being independent, b) the public communication of audit findings (writing remarks in auditors' reports and 'whistle blowing'), c) the protection of the interests of external stakeholders, and d) the 'true and fair' presentation of financial statements. The results also indicate that increased emphasis is placed by auditors on the provision of Management Advisory Services to audited companies. These significant changes are linked to the economic dependence of auditors on audited companies, which the liberalisation brought about.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available