Perspectives on Key Competencies of Quality and Food Safety Internal Auditors: Adding Value for Continuous Improvement

Date of Award


Embargo Period


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Philosophy MPhil



First Advisor

Associate Professor Lisa Barnes

Second Advisor

Dr Warrick Long


35 COMMERCE, MANAGEMENT, TOURISM AND SERVICES| 3501 Accounting, auditing and accountability| 350102 Auditing and accountability


The internal audit program is a fundamental component of a business’s quality and food safety management program and its effectiveness is based on the competencies of those that conduct the audits. The focus of this research is to explore and identify the key competencies that a quality and food safety internal auditor should possess, which will contribute to an effective internal audit program. Also, it determined if there are differences in the internal auditor competencies selected by Shopfloor, Middle Managers and Senior Managers. The research field was two manufacturing sites of Sanitarium Health Food Company, a leading Australian food and beverage manufacturer.

The position of being an insider researcher was examined, and mitigation measures used throughout the project were identified. A sequential explanatory mixed methods approach was undertaken. A short questionnaire was distributed initially to obtain the base data, and this was enriched by information sourced from semi-structured interviews. The 11 essential qualities that the research identified a quality and food safety internal auditor should possess are: good verbal communication skills, an ability to collect and analyse information, a knowledge of the processes being audited, being truthful and accurate, having an eye for detail, integrity, acting professionally, having an ability to get along with people, having a knowledge of audit principles and procedures, being ethical and ensuring audit results are based on evidence, not hearsay. Of these, the majority were from the personal skills category thus confirming the criticality of an internal auditor having people skills. The research identified that Shopfloor people consider relational skills more important, while Middle and Senior Management attached more importance to the process of conducting and reporting on an audit.


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