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We can see then than one of clearest ways of measuring efficiency is audit: a systematic and controlled method of verifying externally that all systems within an organisation are operating in most efficient manner. If they are not, then inefficient or financially overburdening elements can be identified and steps taken to correct this. The audit has many peculiarities, with its’ explosion over years, we can see that as extensiveness of these cultural processes increases, patterns of behaviour change with it. However, as Shore and Wright point out, audit is not a voluntary scheme. Therefore we are constructing an idea of an efficient, professional person using coercion (2000). Perhaps one of most damaging aspects of implementing an audit is its’ effect on trust. Although Douglas (1992) implies that bureaucratic systems are employed when, essentially, trust has broken down, Shore and Wright’s argument would suggest that their utilisation actually works to break down trust relationships even further. Therefore it seems that these imposed methods of checking and verification have consequences that are more far-reaching than simply keeping accountant happy. As audit and concepts behind it become commonplace, so cultures change, and new moral codes are created with it.
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Jack Boulton is the editor of Stimulus Respond, the E-Zine for Urban Anthropologists (www.stimulusrespond.com). You may reproduce this article with permission (obtained by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org) and on the condition that the author is credited along with a link to Stimulus Respond.