And the BAFTA goes to ...’: The Assurance Role of the Auditor

Accounting

Speaker:Dr. Ingrid Jeacle, Edinburgh University
Date: Wednesday 27 February 2013
Time: 14:00 - 15:30
Location: Bateman Lecture Theatre

Further details

Abstract
The annual film awards ceremony of the British Academy of Film and Television Arts (BAFTA) is a glitz and glamorous affair watched by millions of television viewers. A BAFTA win can substantially boost the revenue generation of a film while ensuring career success for the staring actor. Overseeing these winning results on the night of the ceremony, literally backstage, sits the Official Scrutineer, a role occupied by the audit firm Deloitte. This moment represents the culmination of weeks of systems testing by Deloitte on BAFTA’s voting process. As such, the case of BAFTA provides an illustrative example of the increasing demand for discretionary assurance services from audit firms (Free, Salterio & Shearer, 2009), which in turn is reflective of Power’s (1997) ‘audit society’. It showcases the power of audit as a legitimating tool. The paper seeks to understand the role of the auditor as assurance provider by drawing upon Goffman’s (1959) dramaturgical framework. Viewing the auditor as ‘performer’ and a range of interested stakeholders (BAFTA voting members, sponsors, award winners and industry commentators) as the ‘audience’, this theoretical lens facilitates insights into the nature of assurance provision. Analysis of results from 36 interviews indicates that Deloitte are highly effective in delivering a successful performance to their audience; they convey a very convincing impression of trust and assurance. The paper therefore suggests the importance of performance ritual in the auditor’s role as assurance provider. Additionally, it argues that such a performance may be particularly effective, in the eyes of the audience, when played by a well known audit firm.