Corruption in the University: Fraud Prevention and the Big Four Accountancy Firms

CHEF lunch talk. Speaker: Cris Shore, University of Auckland & Stockholm Centre for Organisational Research.

04.01.2018 | SØREN S.E. BENGTSEN

Dato tor 01 mar
Tid 12:00 13:00
Sted Danish School of Education, Campus Emdrup, Building D, room D120. Video-link to the Centre for Teaching Development and Digital Media, Aarhus University, building 1483, room 656.


Anthropologists have highlighted two key points of particular relevance to current debates about corruption. First, that the meaning of corruption varies cross-culturally; second, that discourses about corruption provide a useful lens for analysing hidden structures and social norms.

Building on these insights, my paper explores the idea of corruption in the context of the university. If corruption has long been an object of academic interest, it is now a problem for academia itself – or so the rise in university anti-corruption initiatives and fraud-prevention hotlines would suggest. But have universities really become more corrupt?

Moving beyond Roscigno’s (2015) critique of ‘university bureaucracy as organised crime’, I use examples from Australiasian universities to explore how risk management, auditing and anti-corruption are being used to open up the university to external financial interests.

More specifically, I analyse the predatory practices of the Big Four international accountancy firms and their growing involvement in the anti-fraud industry. I argue that these not only highlight the ‘performativity’ of corruption narratives but also reveal how audit firms collude in the risk and corruption that they claim to ameliorate.