Communication Is a Two-way Street: Analyzing Approaches Undertaken to Systematically Transfer Audit Research Knowledge to Policymakers
81 Pages Posted: 16 Aug 2018 Last revised: 7 Apr 2020
Date Written: March 23, 2020
Audit academics and policymakers exhibit continuing concerns about the limited transfer of audit research findings to policymakers. We use knowledge transfer best practices to evaluate eight audit domain specific practices for their potential to transfer audit knowledge. Our analysis shows that while several less formal audit practices can contribute to knowledge transfer, the literature reviews produced under the PCAOB-AAA Auditing Section “research synthesis project” (RSP) are the practice that incorporates relatively more such best practice norms. We corroborate our documentary analysis of the RSP practice with RSP author interviews. We find that RSP authors anchored on the traditional academic literature review model to achieve their goal of knowledge transfer to policymakers but insufficiently adjusted that model to make it effective for that purpose. Despite the departures from best practices, we investigate the RSP reviews to determine if some audit research knowledge transfer occurred. First, we examine whether the intended recipients of the RSP reviews’ knowledge transfer can use that knowledge. Employing thirteen RSP reviews, we find that early career accounting professionals can use the reviews’ research evidence to evaluate existing standards and to recommend standards’ changes. Second, we investigate whether standard setters made use of the RSP reviews in their decisions by analyzing the research citations in the PCAOB rule-making dockets. We find that the PCAOB dockets increasingly cited research over the RSP life. Based on the finding of some knowledge transfer due to the RSP reviews, we suggest that a best knowledge transfer practices research synthesis approach warrants further investigation.
Keywords: audit standard setting; communication theory; knowledge transfer; evidence-informed policymaking
JEL Classification: M40, M42, M48, K23
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation