It Goes Without Saying: The Effects of Intrinsic Motivational Orientation, Leadership Emphasis of Intrinsic Goals, and Audit Issue Ambiguity on Speaking Up
60 Pages Posted: 15 Apr 2017 Last revised: 12 Feb 2021
Date Written: October 9, 2018
Regulators require auditors to raise significant audit issues and concerns to the attention of audit engagement leadership and requires leadership to encourage such communication. This paper demonstrates, using an experiment and a survey, that audit team members’ willingness to speak up about such issues is associated with their intrinsic motivational orientation. Based on this result, we test whether audit leadership can leverage this relationship to increase speaking up, particularly when audit issues are more ambiguous, by emphasizing intrinsic goals. Results across three additional experiments indicate that auditors whose leaders emphasize intrinsic goals, whether directly or through tone at the top and firm culture, are more likely to speak up than are other auditors. We also find that auditors are more likely to speak up when an audit issue is less versus more ambiguous. We conclude that leadership can fulfill their obligation to encourage upward communication by emphasizing intrinsic versus extrinsic goals, regardless of the level of ambiguity surrounding the audit issue.
Keywords: Audit Teams, Information Sharing, Leadership, Employee Voice, Experiment, Survey
JEL Classification: M42
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation