Inside environmental auditing: effectiveness, objectivity, and transparency

Cook, W.C.; Bommel, S. van; Turnhout, E.


With the rise of non-traditional governance methods, the third party audit has become a critical part of governing through and with information. Third party audits are considered an integral part of the process of the generation and dissemination of credible information, and are subject to critique and praise. In this article, we take stock of the literature about auditing. In particular we will examine what modes of auditing are distinguished and how norms of transparency, objectivity, and effectiveness are attributed to auditing. Our review shows that the majority of the auditing literature evokes these norms in an uncritical fashion as characteristics of good audits or as things that audits fail to achieve. We conclude our article by advocating for a more grounded examination of transparency, objectivity and effectiveness, not as norms that can be used to separate good from bad audits, but as they are enacted during the audit process.