Advancement in information technology and the intensification of competition are driving many of the organisational changes that have occurred in recent years, e.g., business process re-engineering, outsourcing, downsizing, and participation in inter-organisational systems. The consequential changes in the control environment are a major concern to auditors. A theoretical framework based on the notion of efficient contracting has been developed in this study to help auditors assess the audit impacts of such organisational changes.
Five hypotheses relating to BPR, outsourcing, and traditional audit approaches were formulated. They were tested via open-ended interviews and questionnaires administered to auditors in an international accounting firm. The findings provided weak support for the propositions that outsourcing is a strategic move to "external hierarchy" governance and it often affects transactions with medium-high market dimensions. Traditional audit approaches are shown to be tailored more for "internal hierarchy" governance. However, no clear inference can be made about BPR due to an inconsistency in definition.
The implications for auditors are (a) audit risk assessment should take into account glaring mismatches between transaction characteristics and the efficient governance structure; ( b ) development of systematic audit approaches for "non-traditional" controls should be considered; (c) traditional audit approaches may be inadequate or counter-productive from the contingency perspective of efficient governance structure; (d) reliance on substantive testing should be increased in the short-term; and (e) a long run business focus should be adopted. The generalisability of the findings is severely limited due to the small sample size and crude measuring instruments. Future research may wish to further refine the theoretical framework and develop well-validated measuring instruments. More specific case studies should be considered.