Audit committee – internal audit interaction and moral courage

Imen Khelil, Khaled Hussainey, Hedi Noubbigh

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    Purpose – This paper aims to offer empirical evidence about the effect of the interaction between the audit committee and the internal audit function (IAF) on the moral courage of the chief audit executive (CAE).

    Design/methodology/approach – A mixed approach was followed. In the first stage, questionnaires were sent to CAEs of 60 listed, financial and non-financial Tunisian companies. To enhance the depth of the analysis, in the second stage, semi-directed interviews with 22 CAEs from listed financial and non-financial Tunisian companies were performed.

    Findings – This paper found that the existence of private access to the audit committee has a positive effect on the moral courage of the CAE. The number of meetings between the audit committee and the CAE, the examination of internal audit programmes and results together with the contribution of the audit committee to the appointment and dismissal of the CAE do not show a significant link with the moral courage of the CAE. It also found an insignificant relationship between the audit committee’s examination of interaction between management and the IAF and the moral courage of the CAE.

    Originality/value – To the best of the authors’ knowledge, this paper fills one of the major research gaps in the auditing literature by demonstrating the critical role of audit committee–internal audit interaction in promoting the CAE’s moral courage to behave ethically.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)403-433
    JournalManagerial Auditing Journal
    Issue number4/5
    Early online date21 Jan 2016
    Publication statusPublished - 4 Apr 2016


    • Tunisia
    • professional ethics
    • audit committee–internal audit interaction
    • chief audit executive
    • moral courage


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