Varying Levels of Perceptions of Auditors and The Audit Expectation Gap: A Contestation of Auditor Professional Habitus
The purpose of this study is to explore the perceptions that the public in Ghana have of auditors and auditors’ own perception of self with the aim of contributing to academic and policy issues on the enhancement of the image of the audit profession in the midst of constant criticism and negative stereotyping. The paper adopts a qualitative case study approach with semi-structured interviews with non-business students, business students, managers and also some auditors. Data is analysed and interpreted giving adequate consideration to the experiences, perceptions, and understandings of the key informants that forms the bases of key themes developed alongside existing theoretical and literature work. The paper finds that purposeful contact with auditors, an appreciation and understanding of what auditors are mandated to do are profoundly significant in managing the audit expectation gap and misconceptions. Theoretically, the paper argues that these misconceptions are all multiple faces of misrecognition and contestation of the habitus of the audit profession that constantly force auditors to negotiate for their professional identities and capital. Policy work on accountability and governance should be broadened to cover issues on presenting the work of auditors in a manner that ensures public understanding of mandatory statutory functions. Public Education should be extended to university students where there are potential future accounting field actors. We should not under-estimate how well-informed some of these students are. For the audit professional, accumulated symbolic capital remains slippery and requires constant renegotiation via presentational strategies. The discussions are placed in a sociological context of Bourdieu.
Keywords - Contested Habitus, Expectation Gap, Misrecognition, Professionalism, Professional Identity, Self-promotion