Do Audit Partners with Greater Self-Control Perform Higher-Quality Audits and Achieve Greater Career Success?

Posted: 20 Feb 2019 Last revised: 14 Jan 2021

See all articles by Patrick J. Hurley

Patrick J. Hurley

Northeastern University - Accounting Group

Jukka Karjalainen

University of Eastern Finland - Business School

Amin S. Sofla

KU Leuven - Department of Accountancy

Mikko P. Zerni

University of Vaasa - Department of Accounting and Finance

Date Written: January 28, 2019

Abstract

Trait self-control – the ability to regulate behavior, thoughts, and emotions, especially in pursuit of goals – is important in achieving success in a variety of situations. However, little is known about whether or how individual audit partners’ traits and characteristics can influence audit quality or other outcomes. We combine survey and archival data to examine whether and how Big 4 audit partners’ trait self-control relates to audit quality, client portfolio size, and compensation. We find that trait self-control is predictive of higher audit quality (decreased discretionary accruals and increased probability of issuing a modified audit opinion) and of partners having larger client portfolios and higher compensation. In additional analyses we rule out that this is a selection effect whereby partners with higher self-control audit better clients. Instead, our findings suggest that audit partners’ level of trait self-control is an important determinant of audit quality and audit partners’ career success.

Keywords: audit quality, client portfolio, compensation, audit partner, self-control, trait

Suggested Citation

Hurley, Patrick J. and Karjalainen, Jukka and Salimi Sofla, Amin and Zerni, Mikko P., Do Audit Partners with Greater Self-Control Perform Higher-Quality Audits and Achieve Greater Career Success? (January 28, 2019). Northeastern U. D’Amore-McKim School of Business Research Paper No. 3324121, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3324121 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3324121

Patrick J. Hurley (Contact Author)

Northeastern University - Accounting Group ( email )

360 Huntington Ave.
Boston, MA 02115
United States

Jukka Karjalainen

University of Eastern Finland - Business School ( email )

P.O. Box 1627
Kuopio, FI-70211
Finland

Amin Salimi Sofla

KU Leuven - Department of Accountancy ( email )

Leuven, 3000
Belgium

Mikko P. Zerni

University of Vaasa - Department of Accounting and Finance ( email )

P.O.Box 700
Vaasa, FI-65101
Finland

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