Graduate School of Business


Doctor of Business Administration (DBA)


Melissa M. Washington


stewardship theory, fraud triangle theory, asset misappropriation, occupational fraud, testing internal controls


Accounting | Business


The flexible design multiple case study was performed to broaden the understanding of the possible rationale for city government officials' failing to implement effective internal controls related to the global business problem of occupational fraud. The leadership of an organization should assume a stewardship attitude to reduce fraud risk by designing, implementing, monitoring internal controls, and testing their effectiveness. Asset misappropriation from occupational fraud results in the loss of assets and potential business failure. The research questions explored the internal control procedures implemented to prevent and detect property theft. Additionally, the research questions addressed the strategies implemented to establish segregation of duties and testing of internal controls for effectiveness. The stewardship theory was utilized to understand the leader's responsibility to protect the assets. The fraud triangle theory was applied to evaluate if internal controls were designed to monitor each of the three components. Interviews of 25 participants involved with small city governments in the central United States were conducted, and coinciding city documents were reviewed. The researcher identified five themes as the result of coding the data collected. The findings included how the leadership failed to design internal controls to monitor the pressure and rationalization components of the fraud triangle theory, or test internal controls for effectiveness. The researcher also discovered the leaders’ have a stewardship attitude to protect the assets from misappropriation. The study was conducted to improve business practices based on Biblical precepts of exhibiting exceptional stewardship over God-given authority.

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