Date of Award

5-1-2017

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

Department

Business Administration

First Advisor

O'Donnell, Ed

Abstract

An inherent aspect of an audit is the level of task complexity that junior auditors (staff and senior level associates) endure on a daily basis. This complexity directly impacts an auditor’s ability to form an appropriate problem representation, which in turn impacts judgment performance. One of the key components of this process is having sufficient knowledge for purposes of problem representation; without it, the auditor’s problem representation and ultimately judgment performance are negatively impacted. Conversely, audit teams can positively influence the conciseness of problem representation and performance by way of effective task-specific knowledge transfer. Knowledge transfer in the audit field occurs during three distinct phases: when an auditor reviews prior and/or current year workpapers; when an auditor requests help; and/or during the workpaper review process. For purposes of efficiency and increasing (i.e. improving) problem representation, prior to any deleterious effects, it’s critical that the audit profession understand how to maximize the knowledge transfer as soon as possible after the auditor’s initial assignment of the task. Because auditors commonly will immediately refer to audit programs in the current year documentation in the electronic audit file to gain an understanding of the task, maximizing the knowledge transfer within the electronic audit file is critical to increasing auditor judgment performance. I propose utilizing media richness theory to establish an increased media rich transfer of knowledge via the electronic audit file from the audit managers (expert) to junior auditors (novice). Procedure screens within the electronic audit file would likely be categorized as “written, formal” mediums within the media richness theory, because the source of information is impersonal. However, if audit firms can successfully transform the transfer of information within the audit files from being solely formal document screens to also incorporate personal source characteristics, they will successfully increase the information richness, which will allow for a more successful transfer of knowledge and subsequently the ability for the auditor to more effectively form a problem representation.

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