Archive | June, 2016

Insights Into Self-Images of Internal Auditors

4 Jun


Sarens, G., Lenz, R. & Decaux, L. (2016) Insights Into Self-Images of Internal Auditors, EDPACS, 54:4, 1-18

EDPACS, 54:4, 1-18

We need to be more like farmers.”

(Sharma, 2010, p. 37)


The purpose of this paper is to critically analyze self-images of internal auditors in the light of the metaphors and short descriptions they give about their own role(s) in their organization. Worldwide data have been collected via a forum for internal auditors on LinkedIn where they were asked “If you were asked to write down a catch-line to sum up your role as internal auditors in your organization, what would it be?” The analysis distinguishes five clusters of self-images whereby some of these self-images could be self-inflicted pitfalls creating the wrong expectations and perceptions within the organization: (1) negative self-images that may create distance and form the basis of non-acceptance; (2) overly modest self-perceptions; (3) use of self-evident and empty words that could lead to marginalization in the eyes of internal auditors’ stakeholders; (4) overly ambitious claims, Superman-like, creating the basis for disappointment as internal auditors all too often over-promise and under-deliver. Eventually (5), we also find original and helpful self-images that point to positive characteristics and differences, which should help in creating a unique and sustainable identity, and also support internal audit’s pursuit of greater effectiveness. The analysis of how internal auditors view themselves may explain why some internal auditors are on a route to marginalization and disappointment, while others embark on a more promising path creating a positive, unique and sustainable identity as suggested by recent studies. Ultimately, we suggest that viewing internal auditors as farmers is a promising metaphor with which to position internal audit and strengthen its value proposition.