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Before Audit - a new dissertation on accounting

Mohamed Mahieddine defended his PhD thesis Before Audit. Essays on the necessity of imagination on May 25th at the Accounting section at Stockholm Business School.

Photo: Maria Stoetzer
Mohamed Mahieddine with his dissertation Before Audit. Essays on the necessity of imagination.

Can you tell us a little about your background?

I have a Master of Science in accounting and auditing from Stockholm Business School. Then I applied for the doctoral position and started my doctoral studies. I chose auditing as my research topic because I am interested in [financial] accounting and its relation to capital markets.  My research was specifically devoted to understanding the role of auditors as mediators between social actors and the capital market.

Photo: Maria Stoetzer
The dissertation was partly conducted online.

Can you give a short summary of your dissertation?

The dissertation advances a thesis that agrees with the audit society idea about the representational ability of auditing but criticizes its relativisation of the concept of audit. Using mimesis as a conceptual framework and drawing on the work of Aristotle, Derrida, Girard and Dupuy, the thesis explains that the role of auditors is to create imaginary spaces for representation.

The papers that constitute the dissertation show how these imaginary spaces are created in an indicative, counterfactual and heuristic way through auditors’ enactment of a mediating and supplementary role in relation to the capital market and accounting representation. This role is interpreted within a cosmology that sees the economic system as a future oriented system that requires a certain belief/faith from social actors in order to be sustained.

One of the main conclusions of this thesis is that the role of auditors is more about stimulating this indispensable belief/faith in the promises that the economic system generates than making things auditable. By seeing accounting as a language that cannot represent economic reality as it is, this thesis also argues that the auditing of accounting representation  is in principle an impossible mission that becomes possible within imaginary spaces where belief is a more plausible form of knowledge than facts.

Photo: Maria Stoetzer
From left: Chair Professor Bino Catasús, Supervisor Associate Professor Gustav Johed, Mohamed Mahieddine and Supervisor Associate Professor Mikael Holmgren Caicedo.

Read more about the dissertation Before Audit. Essays on the necessity of imagination