1st Edition

The Closing of the Auditor’s Mind? How to Reverse the Erosion of Trust, Virtue, and Wisdom in Internal Auditing

By David J. O'Regan Copyright 2025
    232 Pages
    by CRC Press

    232 Pages
    by CRC Press

    In The Closing of the Auditor’s Mind? David J. O’Regan describes internal auditing as an important “binding agent” of social cohesion, for the accountability of individuals and organizations and also at aggregated levels of social trust. However, O’Regan also reveals that internal auditing faces two severe challenges – an external challenge of adaptation and an internal challenge of fundamental reform.


    The adaptation challenge arises from ongoing, paradigmatic shifts in accountability and social trust. The command-and-control, vertical hierarchies of traditional bureaucracies are being replaced in importance by networked, flattened patterns of accountability. The most challenging assurance demands of the modern era are increasingly located in THREE institutional domains - in the inner workings of organizations; in intermediary spaces at organizational boundaries; and in extra-mural locations. Internal auditing continues to cling, barnacle-like, to the inner workings of traditional, bureaucratic structures, and it has little to offer the emerging assurance demands on or beyond institutional boundaries. The reform challenge arises from internal auditing’s prevailing tendency toward a rigid, algorithmic, checklist mindset that suppresses practitioners’ creativity and critical thinking. This trend is increasingly narrowing internal auditing’s intellectual and moral horizons. Under the pressures of these challenges, internal auditing is struggling to fulfil its primary purpose of serving the public interest.


    O'Regan’s powerful book  focuses on:

    • The redistribution of social trust from traditional, hierarchical institutions to diffuse, horizontally distributed networks

    • The perennial validity of the classical virtues as the humane foundation of professional activity

    • The role of creative expertise in promoting professional wisdom


    The Closing of the Auditor’s Mind? is a philosophical audit of a profession on the threshold of crisis. The book presupposes no prior knowledge of philosophy, nor indeed of auditing. Philosophical technicalities are contained in an Appendix, leaving the main text jargon-free. O’Regan provides original and striking perspectives on the malaise of modern internal auditing, and he proposes radical remedies. This captivating and well-informed book is a must-read for all who are concerned with our collective socio-economic and political wellbeing.


    Preface. A Note on Methodology. Acknowledgements. Abbreviations. Glossary. 1 Introduction. 2 The marginalization of internal auditing in a post-bureaucratic age. 3 Social trust and the audit society. 4 The corrosion of professional virtue in internal auditing. 5 Numbers, wisdom, and internal auditing follies. 6 Toward a renaissance of internal auditing? 7 Concluding thoughts. Appendix A – Philosophical notes. Appendix B – Aphoristic wisdom. References. Index.


    David J. O’Regan has authored nine books on auditing and related themes. His interests include the application of Aristotelian logic to the auditing process, and he is the author of the Auditor’s Companion: Concepts and Terms from A to Z (Georgetown University Press, 2024). He earned a doctorate in accounting and finance from the University of Liverpool and is a Fellow of the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales. His auditing experience covers more than three decades, spanning the private, public, and academic sectors. He commenced his career in the United Kingdom with Price Waterhouse, a forerunner firm to today’s PricewaterhouseCoopers, and subsequently worked in industry before heading the internal audit function at Oxford University Press. He then entered public service in the United Nations system, initially at the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons in The Hague, Netherlands. From 2009 he has served as Auditor General to the Pan American Health Organization in Washington D.C.