Working with the Flu: The Association Between Auditor Health and Audit Outcomes

60 Pages Posted: 24 Aug 2018 Last revised: 29 Jan 2021

See all articles by Landi Morris

Landi Morris

Bentley University

Rani Hoitash

Bentley University - Department of Accountancy

Date Written: January 1, 2019

Abstract

This study examines whether influenza (flu), a potential threat to the conduct of public company audits, is associated with audit outcomes. Because the peak months of flu season overlap with audit busy season, audit offices most impacted by the flu may be adversely affected. The demanding nature of audit busy season and the culture of audit firms may compel employees to go to work sick, a phenomenon known as presenteeism. When auditors go to work with flu-like symptoms, cognitive functioning, resulting in brain fog, is impaired. This impairment may influence auditors’ ability to exercise judgment and professional skepticism, leading to adverse outcomes. Using data collected from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) we find that the filing of audit reports is delayed and audit quality suffers in audit offices most impacted by the flu. The observed effects of health impairments on company outputs have broad implications for both the audit profession and workplaces as a whole.

Keywords: influenza; non-timely filings; audit report lag; audit quality; discretionary accruals, material weaknesses

JEL Classification: I10, I12, E24, J24, M41, M42, M54

Suggested Citation

Morris, Landi and Hoitash, Rani, Working with the Flu: The Association Between Auditor Health and Audit Outcomes (January 1, 2019). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3231579 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3231579

Landi Morris

Bentley University ( email )

175 Forest Street
Waltham, MA 02145
United States

Rani Hoitash (Contact Author)

Bentley University - Department of Accountancy ( email )

175 Forest Street
Waltham, MA 02452-4705
United States

HOME PAGE: http://www.xbrlresearch.com

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