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

See all articles by Kathryn Kadous

Kathryn Kadous

Emory University - Goizueta Business School

Chad A. Proell

TCU - Department of Accounting

Jay Rich

Illinois State University - College of Business

Yuepin (Daniel) Zhou

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign - Department of Accountancy

Date Written: October 9, 2018

Abstract

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

Kadous, Kathryn and Proell, Chad A. and Rich, Jay S. and Zhou, Yuepin, It Goes Without Saying: The Effects of Intrinsic Motivational Orientation, Leadership Emphasis of Intrinsic Goals, and Audit Issue Ambiguity on Speaking Up (October 9, 2018). Contemporary Accounting Research, Forthcoming, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2952107 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2952107

Kathryn Kadous

Emory University - Goizueta Business School ( email )

1300 Clifton Road
Atlanta, GA 30322-2722
United States
404-727-4967 (Phone)

Chad A. Proell (Contact Author)

TCU - Department of Accounting ( email )

M.J. Neeley School of Business
TCU Box 298530
Fort Worth, TX 76129
United States

Jay S. Rich

Illinois State University - College of Business ( email )

Normal, IL 61761
United States

Yuepin Zhou

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign - Department of Accountancy ( email )

1206 South Sixth Street
Champaign, IL 61820
United States

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