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    Mentoring and turnover intentions in public accounting...
    research summary posted May 4, 2012 by The Auditing Section, last edited May 25, 2012, tagged 05.0 Audit Team Composition, 05.04 Staff Hiring, Turnover and Morale 
    Mentoring and turnover intentions in public accounting firms: A research note
    Practical Implications:

    The results of this study are important for audit firms to consider when designing their mentoring processes.  The evidence indicates that psychological mentoring programs can decrease employee turnover intentions, and that the career development mentoring can actually result in increased turnover intentions.  The latter is most likely a result of the mentee developing skills and experiences that can make the employee a more desirable candidate for employment opportunities outside of the firm.   However, the authors suggest that both types of mentoring (career development and psychological support) are important for the development of younger staff members.  They suggest that firms should be sensitive to the possible outcomes of each of these mentoring programs and that mentors be made aware of the potential effects before starting mentoring relationships.  This awareness could help mentors anticipate any of the potentially negative aspects of career development mentoring.


    Hall, M. and D. Smith. 2009. Mentoring and turnover intentions in public accounting firms: A research note. Accounting, Organizations and Society 34 (6): 695-704

    Mentoring, turnover intentions, job satisfaction, psychological support, career development support, procedural justice, affective organizational commitment, psychological empowerment
    Purpose of the Study:

    During the recent years, public accounting firms have begun to foster and utilize mentoring relationships in which less experienced staff members (mentees) are paired with more experienced staff members (mentors).  One goal of these initiatives is to increase staff retention by focusing on two primary aspects of mentoring relationships: 

    • Career development support, which primarily focuses on helping the mentee to advance through the ranks of the firm by encouraging learning and facilitating membership on teams for important assignments
    • Psychological support, which primarily focuses on serving as a role model, providing friendship, and offering a venue to share personal experiences with the mentee.  

    Since previous research has only examined the implications of the existence of a mentoring program on turnover intentions, the authors conducted this study to determine if the different aspects of a mentoring program can have separate or distinct impacts on a person’s intent to leave the firm.  The authors also consider if the different types of mentoring have indirect effects on mentees’ intention to leave the firm.  An indirect effect occurs if the mentoring program impacts how accountants view their respective firms, and these perceptions then lead to turnover intentions.  Examples of these perceptions include the following: 

    • Psychological empowerment, which is the perception of individuals’ abilities, the intrinsic value of their work tasks, and the role that they can have over work productivity and workplace policies.
    • Procedural justice, which is the perception of how fairly individuals are treated by organizational policies and practices
    • Affective organizational commitment, which refers to individuals’ emotional attachment to the organization.
    Design/Method/ Approach:

    The research evidence is collected prior to 2009.  The authors use a group of accountants below partner level from seven Australian public accounting firms (one Big 4 firm and six middle-tier firms). Each participant completed a survey which was distributed by a representative of their accounting firm.  The surveys utilized to gather the data were based on surveys that were previously developed and utilized in conducting similar research conducted in other disciplines.

    • The authors find that career development support is associated with higher levels of psychological empowerment, which leads to higher levels of turnover intentions. 
    • The authors find that psychological support is associated with higher levels of both procedural justice and affective organizational commitment.  Each of these are then associated with lower levels of turnover intentions.
    • The authors find that while specific mentoring behaviors affect job satisfaction and turnover, the mere existence/absence of a mentor has no effect.  This emphasizes the importance of considering the nature of a mentoring relationship.
    Audit Team Composition
    Staff Hiring - Turnover & Morale
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