The Impact of Management Alumni Affiliation and Persuasion Tactics on Auditors’ Internal Control Judgments.

Posted: 10 Sep 2014 Last revised: 17 Jun 2017

See all articles by Sudip Bhattacharjee

Sudip Bhattacharjee

Virginia Polytechnic Institute & State University - Department of Accounting and Information Systems

J. Owen Brown

Baylor University

Date Written: June 9, 2017

Abstract

Concerns over "revolving door" practices of companies hiring directly from their external auditor led to a Sarbanes-Oxley Act provision mandating a one-year cooling off period before such hires can occur. Yet, little is known as to whether these alumni affiliations, still prevalent today, actually impair audit quality. Drawing on Social Identity Theory, we conduct an experiment to examine whether auditors experience heightened identification with an alumni-affiliated client manager, and, if so, how this perceived relationship affects their professional skepticism in response to a management persuasion attempt. As predicted, absent the use of a management persuasion tactic, auditors identify more with an alumni-affiliated manager than a non-alumnus with equal professional experience, and this perceived social bond enhances the manager's influence. However, the use of a common persuasion tactic, while effective at influencing auditor judgment when used by an unaffiliated manager, "backfires" when used by an alumni-affiliated manager, leading to diminished persuasion and increased professional skepticism. Evidence suggests that auditors are better able to identify the inappropriateness of the persuasion attempt when the tactic is used by an alumni-affiliated manager.

Keywords: Management Affiliation, Professional Skepticism, Auditor Alumni, Internal Control, Persuasion Tactic

JEL Classification: M40, M41, M42

Suggested Citation

Bhattacharjee, Sudip and Brown, Owen, The Impact of Management Alumni Affiliation and Persuasion Tactics on Auditors’ Internal Control Judgments. (June 9, 2017). The Accounting Review, Forthcoming, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2493752

Sudip Bhattacharjee

Virginia Polytechnic Institute & State University - Department of Accounting and Information Systems ( email )

Pamplin College of Business
Blacksburg, VA 24061
United States

Owen Brown (Contact Author)

Baylor University ( email )

Waco, TX 76798
United States

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