Greenhouse and energy auditing - more technical or financial? - An exploration of its translation from the lobbying process and after

Geyi Xu, University of Wollongong
Jane L. Andrew, University of Sydney
Brian H. Andrew, University of Wollongong
Corinne L. Cortese, University of Wollongong

Xu, G., Andrew, J. L., Andrew, B. H. & Cortese, C. L. (2016). Greenhouse and energy auditing - more technical or financial? - An exploration of its translation from the lobbying process and after. APIRA 2016: 8th Asia-Pacific Interdisciplinary Research in Accounting Conference


The term 'audit' has become increasingly inscribed on a wide variety of subjects. In Australia, the emergence of greenhouse and energy audits provides a rare opportunity to revisit auditing expertise in action. Problematised from an integral part of the projected Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme (CPRS, which failed politically) and the National Greenhouse and Energy Reporting (NGER) Act 2007 in Australia, the construction of greenhouse and energy audits was subject to a longer than expected lobbying processes involved the Australian government, a group of stakeholders who represented the interests of large emitters, and the accounting and engineering professions. The lobbying was surrounded by the boundary of greenhouse and energy audits and auditor expertise. Inspired by Actor-Network-Theory (ANT) and its key analytical approach of 'translation', this paper followed the processes of transferring and transforming greenhouse and energy audits from attached terminology and vocabularies, to what finally is a 'new' type of audit that involves multidisciplinary assurance practitioners. In comparison with extant ANT-inspired auditing and lobbying studies, this paper provides additional and detailed empirical evidence of the controversies and contestations that occurred in the four moments of 'translation', from problematisation, to interessement, to enrolment, and finally to mobilisation. This paper reveals a wide resistance and challenge to the involvement of financial auditors in greenhouse and energy audits. Unlike previous ANT-inspired auditing studies, fewer non-accounting actors recognised the expertise of the financial auditors as a context-free 'general' knowledge. Rather, financial auditors were painted as specialists in verifying bad debts and value within the 'financial' boundary. However, the accounting actors were capable of using translation strategies to establish similarities by either aligning explicit interests with the DCC or making detours to bypass or subordinate the obstacle of 'technical, while the engineering actors and their supporters' claims to technical expertise had to yield to the established black boxes and inscriptions of auditing terms, standards and notions.