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    Biased Evidence Processing by Multidisciplinary Greenhouse...
    research summary posted August 31, 2016 by Jennifer M Mueller-Phillips, tagged 05.0 Audit Team Composition, 05.01 Use of Specialists e.g., financial instruments, actuaries, valuation, 09.0 Auditor Judgment, 09.03 Adequacy of Evidence 
    Biased Evidence Processing by Multidisciplinary Greenhouse Gas Assurance Teams
    Practical Implications:

     This study has implications for public accounting firms engaging in GHG engagements. Team training that establishes an understanding of the knowledge and role of the team members from differing disciplines might help to alleviate over-reliance on peer-provided evidence. In the context of multidisciplinary assurance teams, establishing and adhering to audit firm quality control mechanisms relating to evidence collection, evaluation, and review are of particular importance. Accounting firms may also need to pay particular attention in fostering an assurance environment that encourages objective evidence processing.


     Kim, S., W. J. Green, and K. M. Johnstone. 2016. Biased Evidence Processing by Multidisciplinary Greenhouse Gas Assurance Teams. Auditing: A Journal of Practice and Theory 35 (3): 119-139.

    greenhouse gas (GHG) assurance, multidisciplinary teams, internal experts, evidence weighting, and misstatement likelihood judgments.
    Purpose of the Study:

    Due to the increased attention being paid to the environment as well as how humans are impacting the environment, there exists growing demand for a range of corporate social responsibility information. In order to be most efficient, assurors conduct greenhouse gas (GHG) assurance engagements using multidisciplinary teams containing varying technical expertise, with some possessing financial audit-related expertise and others possessing science or combined science/financial-related expertise. The purpose of this study is to investigate how auditors respond to the discipline-specific expertise of other team members in undertaking GHG assurance. 

    Design/Method/ Approach:

    The authors test this by conducting an experiment in which traditional auditor participants respond to a simulated multidisciplinary team and examine whether the auditors bias their weighting of evidence based on if the senior assuror has a science background as opposed to a financial background. 

    • The authors find that the assuror participants bias their processing of audit evidence by conforming to the science senior’s explanation, despite the fact that, in this setting, no science-related expertise is needed to compile or evaluate the evidence and other available evidence items contradict the science senior’s explanation.
    • The authors find that the results also support the mitigating role of the reviewer’s expertise on the effect of the science senior’s explanation. Specifically, the participants who learned the explanation of a science senior place less weight on the science-related evidence items once they learn that the reviewer has financial assurance expertise.
    • The authors also find evidence that this biased weighting of evidence and the mitigating role of the reviewer’s expertise translate into the final assurance judgments.
    Auditor judgment in the workpaper review process