The legitimacy of new assurance providers: Making the cap fit

Publication date: February 2014 Source:Accounting, Organizations and Society, Volume 39, Issue 2

Author(s): Paul Andon , Clinton Free , Prabhu Sivabalan

According to Bourdieu, legitimacy is a scarce symbolic resource that is subject to struggle and (re)negotiation. Focusing on the emergence and operation of the salary cap audit programs in the National Rugby League (NRL) in Australia and Canadian Football League (CFL) in Canada, this article explores the way in which auditors compete for legitimacy in new audit spaces. We highlight the way that capital from intersecting semi-autonomous fields were drawn upon to generate legitimacy for the new roles. We also draw attention to a range of practical strategies, including conscious ingratiation, sanctioning, and fairness appeals, which were mobilised to impose the auditors in their roles, populate the field with new rules and confer a new order. The contrasting case studies reveal the importance of contextual elements and the configuration of the field of power in each case. Implications for the claims of the accounting profession to new audit spaces are discussed.