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Accountability Effects on Auditors' Performance: Influence of Knowledge, Problem-Solving Ability, and Task Complexity

37 Pages Posted: 28 Jan 1999  

Hun-Tong Tan

Nanyang Technological University (NTU) - Division of Accounting

Alison Kao

Nanyang Technological University

Abstract

In this study, we examine three factors that moderate the relation between accountability to a superior and auditor performance: knowledge, problem-solving ability, and task complexity. Specifically, we predict that accountability works best when the requisite knowledge and abilities are matched with the characteristics of the task.

In our study, auditors performed three tasks of varying complexity. In the low complexity task (listing compliance and substantive tests), accountability did not influence performance. As the task became more complex (listing financial statement errors associated with an internal control deviation), accountability improved performance only when knowledge was high. For the most complex task (listing causes associated with a change in ratios), accountability improved performance only when both knowledge and problem-solving ability were high. These results indicate that accountability works best in particular combinations of knowledge, problem-solving ability, and task complexity. Implications of the results and the directions for future research are discussed.

JEL Classification: M49

Suggested Citation

Tan, Hun-Tong and Kao, Alison, Accountability Effects on Auditors' Performance: Influence of Knowledge, Problem-Solving Ability, and Task Complexity. Journal of Accounting Research. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=147869 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.147869

Hun-Tong Tan (Contact Author)

Nanyang Technological University (NTU) - Division of Accounting ( email )

Nanyang Business School
Singapore, 639798
Singapore
+65 6790 4819 (Phone)
+65 6793 7956 (Fax)

Alison Kao

Nanyang Technological University

Nanyang Avenue
School of Accountancy and Business
Singapore 639798
Singapore

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