Perceptions of Robotic Process Automation in Big 4 Public Accounting Firms: Do Firm Leaders and Lower-Level Employees Agree?

47 Pages Posted: 5 Sep 2019 Last revised: 11 Jan 2021

See all articles by Lauren Cooper

Lauren Cooper

West Virginia University

Kip Holderness

West Virginia University

Trevor Sorensen

West Virginia University - Department of Accounting and Management Information Systems

David A. Wood

Brigham Young University - School of Accountancy

Date Written: January 11, 2020

Abstract

The use of Robotic Process Automation (RPA) is a recent innovation in the public accounting industry, and the Big 4 firms are at the forefront of its implementation. This paper examines how the adoption and use of RPA is affecting the perceived work experience of firm leaders and lower-level employees at Big 4 accounting firms. We interview 14 RPA leaders, survey 139 lower-level employees, and compare and contrast their responses. We find that the two groups generally agree that RPA is having a positive influence on the profession. Both groups believe that RPA is positively changing the work employees perform and improving employee career prospects. However, while firm leaders believe RPA will improve work satisfaction, lower-level employees report no such improvements. Our insights provide direction for the accounting profession as it increases the use of RPA and for future research studies examining related issues.

Keywords: Robotic process automation (RPA), automation, accounting efficiency, accounting effectiveness, hiring decisions, technology acceptance model, expectation gap

Suggested Citation

Cooper, Lauren and Holderness, Darin Kip and Sorensen, Trevor and Wood, David A., Perceptions of Robotic Process Automation in Big 4 Public Accounting Firms: Do Firm Leaders and Lower-Level Employees Agree? (January 11, 2020). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3445005 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3445005

Lauren Cooper

West Virginia University ( email )

Morgantown, WV 26506
United States

Darin Kip Holderness

West Virginia University ( email )

PO Box 6025
Morgantown, WV 26506
United States
3042937847 (Phone)
3042930635 (Fax)

Trevor Sorensen

West Virginia University - Department of Accounting and Management Information Systems ( email )

Morgantown, WV 26506
United States

David A. Wood (Contact Author)

Brigham Young University - School of Accountancy ( email )

518 TNRB
Brigham Young University
Provo, UT 84602
United States
801-422-8642 (Phone)
801-422-0621 (Fax)

HOME PAGE: http://marriottschool.byu.edu/employee/employee.cfm?emp=daw44

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