In accounting research, the role of organizational leaders has been underrepresented. The limited research dealing with leadership issues has focused on the impact of leadership on micro activities such as performance evaluation, budget satisfaction, and audit team performance. The impact of leadership on the structure of accounting and audit systems and organizations has been ignored.

This paper focuses on the impact that past Comptrollers General have had on the working and structure of one federal audit agency, the United States General Accounting Office (GAO). In addition, it also focuses on the influence of the two most recent Comptrollers General on one important audit related activity, i.e., the audit report review process. Using qualitative field research methods, this paper documents how the organizational leadership impacts its long-term audit practices and thereby influences auditing, especially in the public sector.

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