Date of Award

5-1-2016

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

Department

Business Administration

First Advisor

O'Donnell, Ed

Abstract

Audit committee members play a pivotal role in the audit process, specifically, when negotiating disputes between management and the external auditor concerning audit adjustments. According to Auditing Standard 16 (formerly AU Section 380.34-.44), the external auditors are required to discuss, with the audit committee, all significant findings resulting from the completion of the audit including: (i) qualitative aspects of estimates; (ii) uncorrected misstatements; and (iii) disagreements with management (PCAOB 2015). Prior literature suggests an audit committee’s propensity to support the external auditor when dealing with the issues described above (Knapp 1987; DeZoort and Salterio 2001; DeZoort et al. 2003b; DeZoort et al. 2003a). However, these studies do not address how behavioral factors such as a relationship between the external auditors and audit committee members can affect a member’s stance on a proposed audit adjustment. The purpose of this study is to investigate the effect that the relationship between audit committee members and external auditors has on a member’s recommendation for proposed audit adjustments during a management dispute with the external auditor (i.e., whether they side with the external auditors or management). Specifically, this experiment examines the effects of relationships and the mediating effect of external auditor tenure on an audit committee member's judgments through the application of several social cognitive theories: (i) attachment theory; (ii) social judgment theory; (iii) and internal working models. Results indicate that external auditor/audit committee member relationships and auditor tenure significantly influence an audit committee member’s decision making when faced with an auditor/management dispute. Also, auditor tenure (long) does not negatively affect audit quality.

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