Investigating the Backstage of Audit Engagements: The Paradox of Team Diversity

Firdaus Amyar, Nunung Nurul Hidayah, Alan D Lowe, Margaret Woods

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Purpose: There has been very little qualitative “fieldwork” of audit practice. This is especially the case in relation to investigations into how audit engagements proceed. The purpose of this paper is to engage with audit practice in order to explore and explain the internal dynamics and paradoxical conditions within audit engagement teams. Design/methodology/approach: The research adopts a qualitative methodology, framed around an intensive case study that involves several methods of data collection and analysis including interviews, observation and document analysis. The authors observe audit team practices, work programmes and organisation including observations of individual and teams involved in audit engagements. Findings: Using the lens of paradox theory, the authors explore the backstage of audit work, where audit teams are challenged with recurring contradictory requirements and opposing demands. The authors provide insight on the complexity associated with inadequate resourcing and planning that tend to stimulate the emergence of paradoxes in audit engagement work in a government audit context. As a result, the authors identify the occurrence of cascading reduced audit quality practices (RAQP) as the teams respond to the paradoxes they face. Originality/value: The authors reveal the interlinked and cumulative coping strategies, namely, downplaying responsibility and downscaling audit processes. These strategies are performed concurrently by team leaders and audit members to manage paradoxical tensions. The authors also identified superficial audit supervision as another type of RAQP performed by team leaders.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)378-400
Number of pages23
JournalAccounting, Auditing and Accountability Journal
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 31 May 2019

Bibliographical note

© Firdaus Amyar, Nunung Nurul Hidayah, Alan Lowe and Margaret Woods 2019
Published by Emerald Publishing Limited
Published in Accounting, Auditing & Accountability Journal. Published by Emerald Publishing Limited. This article is published under the Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY 4.0) licence. Anyone may reproduce, distribute, translate and create derivative works of this article (for both commercial and non-commercial purposes), subject to full attribution to the original publication and authors. The full terms of this licence may be seen at


  • Audit engagement team
  • Auditors coping strategies
  • Paradox theory
  • Reduced audit quality practices
  • Team diversity


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