Game Changer: Can Modifications to Audit Firm Communication Improve Auditors’ Actions in Response to Heightened Fraud Risk?
57 Pages Posted: 14 Apr 2017 Last revised: 12 Aug 2021
Date Written: August 12, 2021
Regulators express concern over auditors’ failure to respond to fraud risks. Audit firms communicate the importance of remaining skeptical and alert for fraud, but busy auditors give these messages insufficient attention. Building on psychology theory, we develop an innovative intervention designed to improve audit firm communication by incorporating game-like elements. We expect game-like elements to pique auditors’ interest, deepen their cognitive processing, and enhance their awareness of important fraud concepts, making them more alert for fraud when they return to their work. We experimentally demonstrate that the intervention improves auditors’ awareness of important fraud concepts, and these benefits persist to improve auditors’ fraud detection actions. Importantly, auditors receiving communication that simulates current practice fail to respond to heightened fraud risk, confirming regulators’ concerns. In additional analyses, a model supports our intervention promoting deeper processing of the communication, enabling auditors’ subsequent recognition of heightened fraud risk and effective actions. Thus, our results contribute to theory and practice.
Keywords: financial reporting fraud; auditor judgment; gamification; cognitive processing; fraud detection
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