- Title: Mrs
- Position: PhD Student - Department of Accounting and Corporate Governance
- Load: PhD Student Part Time
- Principal supervisor: Professor Nonna Martinov-Bennie
- Associate supervisor: Professor James Guthrie
- Date of submission: 29/02/2016
- Thesis title: The Evolution of the Sustainability Assurance Framework and Methodology in a Specific Australian Organisational Context
- Abstract: This is a longitudinal study (2-3 years) exploring the emergence and evolution in auditing and assurance of Corporate Sustainability Reporting (CSR). The issues investigated include; the corporate processes and dynamics in developing the assurance framework, the content of assurance reports, perceived credibility of assurance practices, the emergence and legitimisation of professional assurance providers and the role and extent of stakeholder accountability. These issues are critical in understanding how the assurance profession is evolving in Australia and in informing the future trends in this growing area. This study will specifically examine the development of the Organisation's assurance framework and methodology. Given the current stage of the development of the Organisation's assurance practices, 'testing' and 'refining' of these during the initial audits, this presents a unique opportunity to observe and document the evolving Organisation's audit methodology and assurance practices.
- Purpose: The main aim of my PhD research project is to explore various aspects of the development and implementation of audit and assurance processes and practices emerging within the context of NRM/environmental audits, in an Australian public sector organisation.
- Originality: The original contribution of this research is to provide much needed insights, within a context of a specific Australian organisation into the emergence and development of specific non-financial environmental assurance framework and practices. There is limited published work to date that examines the practitioner and organisational perspective of the non-financial environmental assurance dynamics in the context of a specific case study. The specific focus of the research is the relevance and meaning of “audit” within the specific subject matter of NRM environmental audits, development of assurance standard, methodologies, practices and audit reporting.
- Key Literature/theoretical perspective: The initial literature review concentrated on the themes of assurance of sustainability reporting and the subsequent stages continue to examine the theoretical extensions based on Michael Power as a lens for interpreting the case study data. Power’s work (2003,1997,1996) suggests that there are various challenges and ambiguities with the audit practice such as: the non-transparency predominant in environmental audits, the new uses of the term ‘audit’ and the complexity of audit practices. Power raises the concern that the financial audit is often regarded as the model for other types of audit even though as a practice, it has been subject to extensive critical commentary, litigation and failure. Power’s identification of the two elements that characterise the practice of auditing: programmatic and technological elements are key to understanding how an organisation constructs the meaning of audit within these various emergent audit contexts such as NRM/environmental audits.
- Martinov-Bennie N and Hecimovic A 2010 'Assurance of Australian Natural Resource Management', Public Management Review, vol.12:4, pp. 549-65
- Hecimovic A, Martinov-Bennie N and Roebuck P 2009 'The Force of Law: Australian Auditing Standards and Their Impact on the Auditing Profession', Australian Accounting Review, vol.19:1, pp. 1-10