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    The Effect of the Social Mismatch between Staff Auditors and...
    research summary posted April 17, 2014 by Jennifer M Mueller-Phillips, tagged 09.0 Auditor Judgment, 09.03 Adequacy of Evidence, 10.0 Engagement Management, 10.04 Interactions with Client Management, 11.0 Audit Quality and Quality Control, 11.03 Management/Staff Interaction 
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    Title:
    The Effect of the Social Mismatch between Staff Auditors and Client Management on the Collection of Audit Evidence
    Practical Implications:

    Given the extent of audit evidence collected by young staff auditors, the findings of this study have direct implications for workpaper and audit quality. The mismatch of age, experience, and knowledge between staff-level auditors and client management can result in a potentially intimidating situation for the staff-level auditor, and impact decisions made in collecting information and conducting testwork. These results provide new evidence regarding the impact of auditor-client interactions on audit quality. This suggests that firms may want to consider how to manage these social mismatches of their staff.

    For more information on this study, please contact G. Bradley Bennett.
     

    Citation:

    Bennett, G. B., and R. C. Hatfield. 2013. The Effect of the Social Mismatch between Staff Auditors and Client Management on the Collection of Audit Evidence. The Accounting Review 88 (1): 31–50.

    Keywords:
    audit documentation; audit environment; audit evidence; audit quality; auditor-client relationship; intimidation; staff-level auditor
    Purpose of the Study:

    This study analyzes social interactions between staff-level auditors and client management to determine how differences in perceptions may influence decisions regarding the collection of audit evidence. During fieldwork, staff-level auditors have extensive interaction with client management, and evidence suggests these auditors are often socially “mismatched” with client management, in terms of their experience, age, and accounting knowledge. Concerns exist over these staff-level auditors’ desires to avoid the interactions and how it may affect the amount of audit evidence collected. The authors of this study attempt to determine the overall effects of these relationships.

    Design/Method/ Approach:

    Surveys were conducted to gather evidence about audit staff interactions with client management. The results of these studies were used to develop and experiment. Graduate auditing students with approximately 2.5 months average internship experience over one busy season were considered an appropriate and practical proxy for staff-level auditors with minimal experience. Participants in the experiment included 138 Master’s of Accountancy students, 52 percent female and 48 percent male, from a large state university in the Southeast. Participants in the experiment were put into a simulated work environment and asked to review accounts receivable confirmations in which additional information was needed from the client’s controller. Results of the experiment were used to determine the participant’s perception of the audit client and their ability to collect sufficient audit evidence.

    Findings:
    • Social differences between staff-level auditors and client management reduce the likelihood that staff-level auditors will request additional audit evidence via face-to-face meetings with the audit client.
    • Client’s explicit behavior to intimidate the auditor does not necessarily result in a difference in auditor behavior.
    • Allowing participants to request evidence via email increased the likelihood that such evidence was requested.
    • Participants often document their findings in such a way as to minimalize the chance of a reviewer identifying the issue.
       
    Category:
    Audit Quality & Quality Control, Auditor Judgment, Engagement Management
    Sub-category:
    Adequacy of Evidence, Interactions with Client Management, Management/Staff Interaction