|In recent times, the auditing profession around the world has been involuntarily
placed in the spotlight, mainly because of the spectacular corporate collapses of
seemingly successful companies and the subsequent implication of the reporting
auditors. This ‘widespread criticism of, and litigation against, auditors indicates that
there is a gap between society’s expectations of auditors and auditors’ performance,
as perceived by society’ (Porter, 1993).
The purpose of this dissertation is to examine the nature of the audit expectation gap,
to investigate the existence of the audit expectation gap in the Irish context and to
determine the views of Irish practitioners on ways of bridging the expectation gap.
The Commission of Inquiry into the Expectations of Users of Financial Statements
(1992) examined the existence of the expectation gap in Ireland during the early
1990’s. However, there appears to be a lack of evidence of the extent of the audit
expectation gap currently in existence in the Irish context. This dissertation aims to
address this issue and to determine the most appropriate methods of narrowing the
The findings of this study indicate that an audit expectation gap exists, particularly
with regard to the following issues: fraud detection and prevention, responsibility for
internal controls, responsibility for the maintenance of accounting records, the
auditors use of judgement regarding the selection of audit procedures and the level of
assurance given by the audit report. The findings also reveal that the Irish
accountancy profession are aware that an audit expectation gap exists. The
interviewees clearly believed that the most effective method of reducing the audit
expectation gap would be the education of both shareholders and company directors
with regard to the limitations of the audit process as well as the roles and
responsibilities of both the auditors and company directors.