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2020B06 - Virtual audit teamwork: Working, learning, and delivering high audit quality virtually (PhD project I. Wiertz)


The overall aim of this proposal is to assess how virtual engagement teams can deliver high-quality audits virtually. Therefore, it is necessary to get to the heart of the mechanism through which a team's virtual nature affects audit quality. By looking at the social and structural factors of the engagement team that vary over time and are, to a large degree, manipulable, we provide audit practitioners with insight to improve their engagement teams' effectiveness and thus improve the quality of the services they provide. By centralizing the context of engagement teams, we ensure that our conclusions are relevant to audit practitioners. Furthermore, by conceptualizing audit quality as a process, we can identify phases in the audit process where engagement teams have been most successful at leveraging the strategic advantages associated with virtual teamwork. 

Furthermore, we aim to identify circumstances where virtual teamwork might impede the engagement team’s ability to realize a high-quality audit and what might be potential mitigating strategies in these circumstances. In conclusion, the proposed research focus and methodological approach allow us to inform practitioners on which and how social and structural factors particular to virtual engagement team interact to create the conditions for these teams to perform to the best of their abilities. 


Audit engagement teams operate in complex and challenging environments with deadline and budget pressures and a great responsibility towards society. Considering the challenging environment of an engagement team, audit firms make considerable investments in their employees' technical proficiency, and leverage experienced auditors' specific knowledge within teams to provide high-quality audits. However, in recent years the auditing profession has endured sustained criticism from regulators and public scrutiny concerning the reliability and quality of their services and the overall added value of auditing firms (MCA, 2020). The Dutch audit profession has responded to this criticism by further improving formalized work practices and established routines, investing in technology, and reinforcing the audit firm's social context, emphasizing the socialization of norms and values related to a quality-oriented culture (AFM, 2020). In essence, the audit profession took measures to create the social and organizational context for engagement teams to be effective and perform to the best of their abilities.

Knowledge dissemination:

Podcast FARview #16 with Iver Wiertz

FAR Literature Review - Team learning behaviors in virtual engagement teams

Podcast FARview #28 with Iver Wiertz

FAR Practice Note - Virtual audit teamwork: Working, learning, and delivering high audit quality virtually

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  • Project Number
  • Research team
    Iver Wiertz Phd student
    Prof. dr. Ann Vanstraelen
    Prof. dr. Wim Gijselaers
    Prof. dr. Roger Meuwissen RA
    Dr. Therese Grohnert
  • Involved University
    Maastricht University
  • Timeline
    09/19 - 08/23