This paper investigates the extent to which certification auditing can contribute to the realization of organizational accountability for sustainable development. A theoretical framework based on a critical analysis of financial and ISO auditing practices is proposed to shed light on the misconceptions, paradoxes and rational myths underlying the institutionalization of auditing practices in the area of corporate sustainability. As such, this paper casts doubt on the imagery of impartiality, rigor and accountability projected by organizations through discourses of certification. It also illustrates the pertinence of studying the auditing function from a cross-disciplinary viewpoint, and of paying attention to the processes by which auditing travels from one discipline to another. Copyright © 2010 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd and ERP Environment.