Auditors’ Responses to Workload Imbalance and the Impact on Audit Quality
Posted: 1 Jul 2020
Date Written: April 17, 2020
Using detailed data for fieldwork hours and audit hours by rank from audit engagements in Korea, we examine whether audits conducted under workload imbalance, proxied by busy-season audits, impair audit quality, and how auditors adjust staff assignments for busy-season audits. We generally find that busy-season audits are associated with lower audit quality, and that audit firms reduce the involvement of senior auditors during busy-season audits. In addition, the greater the involvement of senior auditors and junior auditors, the lesser the deterioration in audit quality. Finally, although there is no increase in interim audits in response to workload imbalance during busy seasons, increasing interim audits can mitigate the negative impact of busy-season audits on audit quality. Our results are relevant to auditors and regulators, who have expressed concerns about the adverse effects of workload imbalance on audit quality.
Keywords: workload imbalance, busy-season audits, audit quality, labor mix, end-of-year auditor hours by rank, interim audits
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