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    Insights from assurance analogs.
    research summary posted October 19, 2015 by Jennifer M Mueller-Phillips, tagged 01.0 Standard Setting, 04.0 Independence and Ethics 
    Insights from assurance analogs.
    Practical Implications:

    Looking forward, it seems likely that an investigation of other assurance analogs will yield a greater understanding of trust and the role that institutions and individual actors can play in creating trust. This understanding might suggest changes that can lead to improved assurance in the financial reporting environment. Beyond an investigation of real world analogs, further research on trust and assurance in an experimental setting would be beneficial, as would more theoretical work (in particular focusing on how trust emerges from the interaction of individuals and institutions).


    Davis, J. S. 2011. Insights from assurance analogs. Accounting, Organizations & Society 36 (4/5): 313-317.

    reliability assessments, redundancy, auditing
    Purpose of the Study:

    Analogy has been a part of human thought for centuries, as can be seen in the epigraph from the Babylonian epic, Gilgamesh, written 4000 years ago. Aristotle recognized the usefulness of analogy in general argument and both Francis Bacon and John Stuart Mill saw analogy as a special case of inductive inference. Its usefulness in scientific inquiry is evident everywhere, from the Rutherford-Bohr planetary model of the atom to the comparison of electrical circuits and hydraulics to the analogy between human information processing and digital computers in cognitive science.

    The three main papers in this volume use analogy in an attempt to better understand auditing and assurance in the financial reporting realm. They examine a range of settings where assurance is needed: a market for baseball trading cards where assurance services have emerged spontaneously to meet demand, a hotel ratings website where assurance has been designed into the system, and mandatory reliability assessment of aircraft where regulators require assurance for the protection of the public. This paper evaluates each of these analogs, with an eye toward insights that can be drawn from the analogs individually and collectively and new directions that can be taken using analogy to learn more about assurance generally and auditing in particular.

    Design/Method/ Approach:

    This article is an editorial.


    This paper reviewed research on assurance analogs in three distinct settings: an online assurance system designed to build trust, an assurance system that has spontaneously emerged in response to market demand, and an assurance system mandated by regulators to protect the public. Each of these settings offers unique insights into assurance and auditing. At a general level, the trio of papers highlights the importance of the institution in which assurance is demanded (markets, an online system, and a regulatory environment). Each also triggers a reevaluation of things taken for granted in the audit environment (e.g., the need for independence, the sources of assurance, and the unintended effects of regulation).

    Independence & Ethics, Standard Setting