Audit Committee : Performing Corporate Governance
Why do we need to understand audit committees? The Cadbury Committee recommended that UK companies should adopt them in response to financial scandals that have stemmed from dubious financial reporting practices. In other countries, similar commissions have made similar recommendations and audit committees are now a common institution. However, many practitioners doubt whether an audit committee really does much to ensure the integrity of a firm's financial statements because, as outsiders, members don't know enough to dig deeply beneath the numbers.
The Audit Committee: Performing Corporate Governance argues that such criticism overlooks the ceremonial function of these committees. The audit committee is an arena where members can form and strengthen shifting and fragmentary networks with each other and with the external auditors. Within these networks, both consensus and independence are demonstrated, generating comfort, which legitimises the company and maintains its access to external sources of capital.
The audit committee is a key part of the corporate governance structure within an organisation. Many in the UK have been patched together to meet regulatory requirements and their operation is poorly understood because few people other than their members have access to their deliberations.
In this account of the world of audit committees the practitioner will find the ethnographical perspectives on ceremonial performance, consensus, independence, and comfort both familiar and different. It's like looking at a photograph of something commonplace from an unusual angle or through a strange-shaped lens.