The Termination of Central Government Internal Auditing and the Emergence of the Innovation Society

Peter Skærbæk, Tim Neerup Themsen*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review


For over two decades, the literature has characterized contemporary Western societies as audit societies. These societies are characterized by an approach to governance that is shaped by the idea and practice of auditing. This paper shows that with regard to public governance, the audit society has started to give way to a program of government innovation, or what we theorize to be the emergence of a new form of society: the innovation society. The paper builds this theorization on a longitudinal case study of the past 40 years of Danish central government administrative policy developments with a focus on internal auditing. The paper shows that internal auditing has transitioned from being a macro actor of public governance to becoming a micro actor and ultimately terminated. The paper further shows that this dissociation process was instigated not by elected politicians but by highly positioned civil servants who managed to remove what they identified as an obstacle to the stability of the innovation program.
Original languageEnglish
JournalFinancial Accountability & Management
Issue number3
Pages (from-to)360-375
Number of pages16
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2022

Bibliographical note

Published online: 04 January 2022.


  • Actor-network theory
  • Audit society
  • Innovation society
  • Internal auditing
  • Public governance

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