Auditing the African State. International Standards and Local Adjustments

University dissertation from University of Gothenburg

Abstract: Norms for how to create accountability within the public sector have long historic roots in organizing the democratic society, where auditors are particular public servants controlling the rest of the public sector performance. Significant divergent understandings of the establishment and development of such accountability mechanisms within states in Sub-Saharan African countries however exists within two different bodies of literature. Due to negative historic experiences and failures of public administration reforms in Sub-Saharan Africa, several scholars within the development literature argue for the necessity of developing unique administrative structures that encompass the specific character of their societies. Due to lack of legitimacy and due to significant differences between Western countries and Sub-Saharan Africa, Western models are regarded to not be appropriate in these contexts. In contrast, in a strand of the organization literature, scholars claim that an observed behavior among organizations is their desire to become legitimate within their field of similar organizations, which in turn leads to homogenization among organizations, in structure and in practice, regardless of the geographical location. The thesis presents a study of the public audit arenas in Sub-Saharan Africa and of the Supreme Audit Institutions in Namibia and Botswana, where the above presented theories are tested. The results reveal a strong professional identity among African auditors, where they constantly reform their organizations to better encompass the requirements in the internationally described norms for auditing. Local circumstances were regarded by the auditors in general as obstacles, which they strived to overcome in order to achieve more legitimacy within their organizational field. The results of the study contrasts to much in the contemporary development literature describing African public sector organizations, and provides new insights on how to understand public sector reforms in Sub-Saharan Africa.

  This dissertation MIGHT be available in PDF-format. Check this page to see if it is available for download.