Auditor Perceptions of Audit Workloads, Audit Quality, and Job Satisfaction

Forthcoming at Accounting Horizons

48 Pages Posted: 7 Dec 2014 Last revised: 12 Jul 2019

See all articles by Julie Persellin

Julie Persellin

Trinity University

Jaime J. Schmidt

University of Texas at Austin

Scott D. Vandervelde

University of South Carolina - Darla Moore School of Business

Michael S. Wilkins

University of Kansas

Date Written: July 11, 2019

Abstract

In this study, we use a survey instrument to obtain perspectives from over 700 auditors about present-day audit workloads and the relationship between audit workloads, audit quality, and job satisfaction. Our findings indicate that auditors are working, on average, five hours per week above the threshold at which they believe audit quality begins to deteriorate and often 20 hours above this threshold at the peak of busy season. Survey respondents perceive deadlines and staffing shortages as two of the primary reasons for high workloads and further believe that high workloads result in decreased audit quality via compromised audit procedures, impaired audit judgment, and difficulty retaining staff with appropriate knowledge and skills. We also find that auditors’ job satisfaction and their excitement about auditing as a career are negatively impacted by high audit workload, particularly when the workload exceeds a threshold that is perceived to impair audit quality. Overall, our findings provide support for the PCAOB’s recent concern that heavy workloads are continuing to threaten audit quality, and suggest that the primary drivers of workload (i.e., deadlines and staffing problems) might be the actual “root cause” of workload-related audit deficiencies.

Keywords: auditing, audit quality, audit workloads, PCAOB

JEL Classification: M42, M12

Suggested Citation

Persellin, Julie and Schmidt, Jaime J. and Vandervelde, Scott D. and Wilkins, Michael S., Auditor Perceptions of Audit Workloads, Audit Quality, and Job Satisfaction (July 11, 2019). Forthcoming at Accounting Horizons, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2534492 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2534492

Julie Persellin

Trinity University ( email )

San Antonio, TX 78212
United States

Jaime J. Schmidt

University of Texas at Austin ( email )

Austin, TX 78712
United States

Scott D. Vandervelde

University of South Carolina - Darla Moore School of Business ( email )

1705 College St
Francis M. Hipp Building
Columbia, SC 29208
United States

Michael S. Wilkins (Contact Author)

University of Kansas ( email )

Capitol Federal Hall
1654 Naismith Dr.
Lawrence, KS 66045
United States

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