Date of Award

5-1-2017

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

Department

Business Administration

First Advisor

O'Donnell, Ed

Abstract

Recent accounting research has indicated that not only do auditors form relational bonds with their clients, but they also tend to acquiesce to their client’s perspective because of that bond. As a result, professional skepticism is often compromised. Accounting research has suggested auditor rotation as a potential solution with mixed results. This may be explained by psychology research showing how quickly bonds can form. Using Social Identity Theory, I predict and find that increasing accountability as operationalized by increasing the salience of any potential client bond before the auditor makes an audit judgment can mitigate the impact of this bond on the auditor’s likelihood to acquiesce to the client’s point of view. This accountability mitigation could be implemented in practice regardless of auditor tenure or auditor rotation. This research provides an intervention that helps to maintain auditor independence while being both cost-effective and practical as it does not require the auditor to discontinue working at their client’s office.

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