If You Want My Advice: Status Motives and Audit Consultations About Accounting Estimates

Posted: 28 Apr 2017

See all articles by W. Robert Knechel

W. Robert Knechel

University of Florida - Fisher School of Accounting

Justin Leiby

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Date Written: December 1, 2016

Abstract

Effective consultation is critical for improving the audit of estimates. In an experiment where audit managers acted as consultants to other auditors, we examine conditions in which consultants either recommend estimates that differ substantially from advice-seekers’ assessments (contrariness) or recommend narrower reasonable ranges of estimates (precision). Psychology theory argues that both of these attributes can improve estimates. We examine whether these attributes depend on consultants' status motives, that is, the desire to gain respect from or power over others. We find that active status motives lead consultants with higher specialized knowledge to provide recommendations that are less contrary, but more precise. However, consultants increase precision by tightening range bounds in a manner that is not counter to management's preference and thus unlikely to prompt the audit team to challenge the estimate. We also find that higher consultant decision authority constrains precision. Our findings suggest limits to consultation's potential effectiveness in improving estimates. For instance, our findings suggest that firms and standard setters direct consultants to focus scrutiny on the range bound that is most likely to constrain management opportunism.

Keywords: Status motives, Auditor consultation, Advice, Accounting estimates, Specialists, Evolutionary psychology

JEL Classification: B52; L84; M41; M42; M48

Suggested Citation

Knechel, W. Robert and Leiby, Justin, If You Want My Advice: Status Motives and Audit Consultations About Accounting Estimates (December 1, 2016). Journal of Accounting Research, Vol. 54, No. 5, 2016, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2960226

W. Robert Knechel

University of Florida - Fisher School of Accounting ( email )

Warrington College of Business
PO Box 117166
Gainesville, FL 32611-7166
United States

Justin Leiby (Contact Author)

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign ( email )

1206 S 6th St
Champaign, IL 61822
United States
2173007825 (Phone)

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