Drawing on Power’s theorization of the logic of auditability as a multidimensional system (Power 1996), we examine the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on auditors’ year-end work from January to April 2020. Based on 24 semi-structured interviews with auditing and accounting professionals located in China, we find that all four dimensions of the logic of auditability were destabilized at once. To restore the conditions of auditability during the pandemic, auditors improvised a deviant system of audit knowledge by re-arranging the timeline of audit procedures, altering the substance of audit processes, and designing alternative control mechanisms. As the audit profession continues to evolve and more institutional decomposition (or reconfiguration) of the logic of auditability is expected to occur, this study contributes to our understanding of how auditors improvise in the backstage and produce comfort when they have to operate outside the protective umbrella of legitimate processes during sudden change of circumstances.

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