Public sector audit in the absence of political competition

Monir MIR, Haiwei FAN, Ian MACLEAN

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Citations (Scopus)


Purpose – The paper aims to explore whether different models of public sector audit exist in China without adhering to the goals and objectives of public sector audit systems in democratic jurisdictions.

Design/methodology/approach – The study is based on a single embedded case study involving multiple methods of data collection including public documents, semi-structured interviews and site visits. The research methods and the analytical framework of the study draw on the concepts of political competition, public sector accountability and audit independence.

Findings – The study finds that the Chinese National Audit Office’s (CNAO) objectives derive from the neoclassical economic discourse and not from ideas of public accountability, as is the case in democratic parliamentary jurisdictions. The study finds that public sector audit in China functions in ways which are similar to that of internal audit. The CNAO may provide limited political and public accountability for Chinese public officials indirectly by enhancing their managerial accountabilities.

Research limitations/implications – The study goes against the prevailing view that supreme audit institutions which are part of the executive will lead to poor accountability of the public sector and increased public sector corruption.

Practical implications – The study suggests that enhancing managerial accountability in nondemocratic (and pseudo-democratic) jurisdictions through public sector audit can by itself be of significant benefit. Further, such enhancements may also strengthen public sector accountability.

Originality/value – This paper fills a research gap by exploring public sector audit independence in a developing country with a unitary system of government.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)899-923
Number of pages25
JournalManagerial Auditing Journal
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - 15 Nov 2017


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