INTERNAL CONTROL IN SWEDISH SMALL AND MEDIUM SIZE ENTERPRISES
Small and medium size enterprises are currently the major part of economic activities through out the world. Nowadays, they represent about 99% of all types of enterprises in Sweden, with providing high job opportunities to its labour force as these enterprises need focus in their development; the internal control mechanism is a means and a way of directing, monitoring and measuring the SMEs resources. It plays an important role in preventing and detecting fraud and protecting the physical and intangible resources as well as leading to high efficiency of the business operation. Therefore, focusing on this business area is a timely issue and a rewarding one since it contributes a lot for the majority of business enterprise involved in SMEs.
This study examines and describes the effectiveness of internal control systems in Swedish small and medium size enterprises. The study focuses on the main five components of internal control and their impact on achieving the company’s objectives. In so doing, the study creates a better understanding of effective internal control that may be applicable to the context of SMEs and establish theoretically the features of an effective internal control for sampled SMEs. To achieve this objective we formulate one research question: To what extent does the internal control system of SMEs comply with the principles of effective internal control? This is intended to look into how closely SMEs follow the virtues of effective internal control in their business operation.
Applying an inductive approach in qualitative interview, the study found out that, contrary to what is generally suggested, SMEs are aware of the importance of having a good internal control system. The findings of the research enabled the emergence of a theory grounded in the collected data. Indeed, the major features of an effective internal control system applicable for SMEs are found to be sound control environment, sound risk assessment process, sound operational control activities, effective information and communication system, effective monitoring and evaluation system. Therefore, the major findings of the research fit into the theoretical framework.
Key words: SMEs, internal control, control environment, risk management, control activities, information and communication, monitoring and evaluation