Institutional logics and sustainability of selected small and medium-sized audit firms

Published in: South African Journal of Accounting Research
Volume 33, issue 3, 2019 , pages: 163–186
DOI: 10.1080/10291954.2019.1655189
Author(s): Carla CoetzeeDepartment of Auditing, South Africa, Karin BaracDepartment of Auditing, South Africa, Joanne SeligmannDepartment of Financial Management, South Africa


Although an abundance of research exists concerning larger audit firms, studies on small-scale audit firms are scarce. This study investigates how small and medium-sized audit firms deal with professional and commercial logic for sense-making and legitimisation of their strategies and practices to remain sustainable, particularly as audit practices, in a changing environment. The study focuses on a specific change event, namely a change in legislation that resulted in mandatory audit relief for certain small and medium-sized enterprises. Following a multiple-case study design, a qualitative research approach was used to show that small and medium-sized audit firms responded to a threat to their sustainability in an environment transformed by new legislation, by broadening the service offerings which coincided with selective adoption of practices related to commercial logic. Those retaining a more focused professional orientation had a positive outlook on the sustainability of their audit practices.

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