Organizational Antecedents of Dysfunctional Auditor Behaviors: The Mitigating Role of Audit Firm Governance
44 Pages Posted: 16 Apr 2013
Date Written: April 16, 2013
Dysfunctional auditor behaviors (DABs), defined as all acts or omissions by auditors that negatively affect audit quality and reduce the reliability of audit-based opinions, have proven an endemic and persistent feature of the contemporary business environment. Although the dominant response to DABs has been to shape up jurisdiction level regulation and enforcement, relatively little attention has been paid to the specific governance challenges of the firms that provide audit services. This is a serious omission, not only because organizational factors of audit firms may be involved as deeper causes of DABs, but also because audit firm governance practices may be more effective remedies for DABs than external policy measures because of their proximity to the audit process. Proceeding from an agency theoretical lens, this study develops a theoretical model of the corporate governance challenges of audit firms, as well as the practices audit firms can implement to meet these challenges. Using survey methods and structural equations modeling on a sample of 112 Dutch audit firms, we provide evidence that organizational factors such as economic dependency, client commitment, and profit orientation aggravate DABs. Furthermore, governance practices like strict client retention policies and internal transparency practices mitigate the influence of these factors. These results provide insights that policy makers and professionals can use to secure the integrity and effectiveness of the audit industry.
Keywords: Audit Failure, Governance, Dysfunctional Auditor Behaviors
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