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​​​​Research: IIA Membership a "Powerful Catalyst for Change"​

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One of the fundamental goals for any professional organization is to recruit members. Often, practitioners who are busy building and advancing their careers fail to recognize the benefits offered by organizations such as The IIA.

For more than 25 years, I have believed the benefits The IIA offers are plentiful, clear, and essential. As a chief audit executive (CAE) struggling to manage the complex internal audit operations of the U.S. Army in the early 1990s, I discovered the vast resources of The IIA. In the years that passed, regardless of the audit organizations I led, I always maintained a tight connection with The IIA. Of course, now as The IIA's Global CEO, I'm sure I am biased, but let's take a quick look at what IIA membership offers in 2018:

  • The components of the International Professional Practices Framework provide foundational philosophies, standards, and guidance that help practitioners provide independent and unbiased assurance and advisory services.
  • Access to continuing education and exclusive thought leadership, including members-only webinars and tools, that strengthen capacity and skills.
  • A suite of certifications — the Certified Internal Auditor (CIA) principal among them —that demonstrate expertise to stakeholders and others.
  • Local, regional, and global conferences that connect peers from around the world to share best practices.

The list goes on, yet I still encounter those who are reluctant to see the value in such direct and intrinsic benefits. Truthfully, some of the benefits are available to nonmember practitioners, but there are intangible paybacks that only membership provides. I am not surprised that internal auditors often seek independent evidence or proof of the benefits of membership. I believe recently published research offers yet more proof for the skeptics.

According to researchers at the Graduate School of Public and International Affairs at the University of Ottawa, membership in The IIA "is a powerful catalyst for change" among public-sector auditors. The scholarly investigation, published in August in Public Management Review, examined how public-sector internal auditors react to growing demands for efficiency and accountability in public organizations. The researchers looked at the premise that understanding employees' motivations and attitudes toward change can help identify conditions most conducive to successful public-sector reforms and, i​n doing so, improve implementation strategies.

The researchers explored auditor attitudes with regard to preferences for changes in three key areas — data analytics, advisory services, and risk management — and whether those preferences are associated with feelings of trust derived from working in a secure and enabling environment and/or by frustrations arising from organizational isolation, role ambiguity, and perceived irrelevance. They further posited that allegiance to The IIA directly and indirectly impacts these relationships.

Among the findings was that "allegiance to professional bodies has a positive effect on appetites for change while weakening the impact of organizational isolation as a change catalyst." The research, based on a survey of 400 Canadian public-sector auditors, highlights the value and importance of professional identities and how they impact psychological well-being at work. 

Put more simply, membership in The IIA helps individuals develop a sense of who they are as professionals and that, in turn, makes them better able to cope with change. In a blog post ​earlier this year, I wrote of the urgent need for internal audit functions to become agile to meet growing stakeholder demands. Having practitioners who can cope with change will help meet those demands. 

Another benefit that is often overlooked or underappreciated is that The IIA acts as an unwavering ally that supports and promotes the profession's best interest. Whether you're a member or not, The IIA is a well-resourced and experienced advocate in your corner.

The IIA's efforts in support of the profession run the gamut, from providing quality assurance review services to ensure internal audit functions are operating at the highest levels, to developing and providing regulatory and legislative guidelines to lawmakers who seek to strengthen internal audit's position in the corporate hierarchy, to establishing and​ nurturing alliances with stakeholder organizations that focus on good governance.

Again, this benefit is enjoyed by nonmembers as well as members. However, in the long run, The IIA, like any professional membership organization, relies on the support of its members — both financially and through participation.

I hope this and the Canadian public-sector research findings will help convince the skeptics. Don't get me wrong, skepticism is a healthy part of internal auditing, and I don't blame those who press for evidence of the benefits of IIA membership.

But even if these two examples are not enough, here's one more thing to consider: It is highly unlikely that more than 190,000 IIA members around the world are wrong!

As always, I look forward to your comments.​

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