Who’s Watching? Accountability in Different Audit Regimes and the Effects on Auditors’ Professional Skepticism

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Authors: Florian Hoos,  Jorien Louise Pruijssers, Michel W. Lander

Publication: Journal of Business Ethics, Forthcoming

Abstract:

The European Commission has suggested that the use of joint audits should lead to improved auditor skepticism and—by extension—audit quality, through increased accountability. However, archival research does not find support for improved audit quality in a joint audit setting. To better understand the relationship between accountability in different review regimes and auditors’ judgments, we examine the behavioral effect of implementing a joint audit relative to other review regimes based on a 1 × 3 experimental design. Forty-seven senior auditors and partners from a Big Four firm performed a going concern evaluation task under one of three review regimes: the joint audit, the internal review, and the no review regime. Notwithstanding the difference in the audiences to which auditors are accountable, there is no difference in the judgment process. In terms of their judgment outcome, however, auditors in the joint audit setting were the least skeptical in their judgment of the going concern assumption. Overall, we suggest that the joint audit may lead to unintended behavioral consequences.

Read full article: Journal of Business Ethics