Episode Summary

Today we jump head-first into a research paper that we have both found to be really interesting and thought provoking.

Episode Notes

It’s Modelling the Micro-Foundations of the Audit Society: Organizations and the Logic of the Audit Trail by Michael Power. This paper gets us thinking about why organizations do audits in the first place seeing as it has been proven to often decrease the efficiency of the actual process being audited. We discuss the negatives as well as the positives of audits – which both help explain why audits continue to be such a big part of safety management in organizations.


  • Individual and team skills needed to maintain safety.
  • What kinds of audits are happening
  • Why is the number of audits increasing?
  • Why do we keep doing audits when they seemingly do not help productivity.
  • Academia and publication metrics
  • The audit society
  • The foundations of an audit trail
  • The process model of an audit trail
  • The problem with audit trails.
  • Going from push to pull when audits are initiated
  • Why is it easier for some organizations to adopt auditing processes than others?
  • Displacement from goals to methods
  • Audits help different organizations line up their way of thinking
  • Practical takeaways


“We see that even though audits are supposed to increase efficiency, that in fact, they decrease efficiency through increased bureaucracy. – Drew Rae

“The audit process needs to aggregate multiple pieces of data, and then it has to produce a performance account, so the audit actually needs to deliver a result.” – David Provan

“We become less reflexive about what’s going on in terms of this value subversion – so we stop worrying about are we genuinely creating a safety culture in our business and we worry more about what’s the rating coming out of these audits in terms of the safety culture.” – Drew Rae

“Audits themselves are not improving underlying performance.” – David Provan


Griffith University Safety Science Innovation Lab


Research paper: Modelling the Microfoundations of the Audit Society