Auditor Negotiations: An Examination of the Efficacy of Intervention Methods

38 Pages Posted: 14 Apr 2005

See all articles by Ken Trotman

Ken Trotman

UNSW Australia Business School, School of Accounting

Arnold Wright

Northeastern University - Accounting Group

Sally Wright

University of Massachusetts at Boston

Abstract

Negotiations are a pervasive feature of the audit process (e.g., the resolution of proposed audit adjustments and disclosures). The results of such negotiations are of great importance to the capital markets, the client and the auditor. The purpose of this study is to examine the effectiveness of three promising, pragmatic intervention methods for enhancing auditor negotiation performance: a role-playing intervention - assuming the client's position in a mock negotiation; a passive intervention - explicitly considering the client's interests and options; and a practice intervention - engaging in a mock negotiation prior to the client negotiation. We posit that the role-playing intervention will improve negotiation results, because this approach requires direct experience in considering and arguing the client's position and more cognitive effort in obtaining an understanding of the counterpart's position, a critical factor identified in the negotiation literature for successful performance.

Forty-five audit managers and partners were provided a realistic case based on an actual scenario involving the potential writedown of inventory due to obsolescence. Participants were randomly assigned to one of three groups (role-playing, passive or practice) and asked to negotiate the issue with a confederate playing the role of the CFO. Auditor conservatism and a large actual subsequent writedown suggest that a significant adjustment is warranted. The results indicate that the role-playing intervention method led to an enhanced negotiation outcome (greater writedown) compared to the passive and practice groups. Process improvements on a number of dimensions were also found, particularly for the role-playing group compared to the practice group.

Keywords: auditor negotiations, negotiations, intervention methods, role-playing

JEL Classification: M49

Suggested Citation

Trotman, Ken and Wright, Arnold and Wright, Sally, Auditor Negotiations: An Examination of the Efficacy of Intervention Methods. Accounting Review, Forthcoming, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=691701

Ken Trotman (Contact Author)

UNSW Australia Business School, School of Accounting ( email )

Sydney, NSW 2052
Australia

Arnold Wright

Northeastern University - Accounting Group ( email )

406 Hayden Hall
United States

Sally Wright

University of Massachusetts at Boston ( email )

Boston, MA 02125
United States
617-287-7682 (Phone)
617-265-7173 (Fax)

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