First Name: Angela
Department Dept of Accounting and Corporate Governance
Supervisor(s): Professor Nonna Martinov-Bennie , Professor James Guthrie
Assurance of Natural Resource Management (NRM)
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.
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.