Implications of the COVID-19 pandemic on internal auditing: a field study

Henry Jarva*, Teresa Zeitler

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review


Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to examine the implications of the COVID-19 pandemic on internal auditing as the pandemic forced individual internal auditors and audit teams to conduct the work remotely.
Design/methodology/approach – Five in-depth semi-structured interviews of internal audit experts that work in German retail and manufacturing industry were conducted between February and April 2021.
Findings – The authors find that the importance of audit technologies did not change significantly due to the pandemic, as audit technologies were already an integral part of internal audits. Interestingly, the transition to remote audits occurred with remarkable speed and efficiency. The presence of well-functioning information and communication technologies emerges as a critical facilitator for effective remote communication, collaboration and data exchange. However, audit technologies can only partially replace physical on-site
examinations and human interaction. The main challenges of remote audits are related to the auditing of nondigitalized processes and the inherent limitations of auditee interviews and interactions.
Research limitations/implications – The authors’ interview approach does not allow to cover variations between industries and between countries. While internal audit experts provided notably consistent responses during the interviews, acknowledging that the sample size is very small is important.
Practical implications – The COVID-19 pandemic serves as a catalyst for increased digitalization and technology adoption within the realm of internal auditing. A hybrid approach combining the benefits of on-site and remote audits is expected to prevail in the future.
Originality/value – The paper is among the first to document the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on the work of internal auditing using field-based research methods.
Original languageEnglish
Peer-reviewed scientific journalJournal of Applied Accounting Research
Publication statusPublished - 04.07.2023
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article - refereed


  • 512 Business and Management
  • audit technology
  • COVID-19
  • internal audit
  • remote audit
  • G32
  • M41
  • M42

Areas of Strength and Areas of High Potential (AoS and AoHP)

  • AoS: Financial management, accounting, and governance


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