Evaluating the intentionality of identified misstatements: How perspective can help auditors in distinguishing errors from fraud
- E. K. Hamilton
- Auditing: A Journal of Practice & Theory 35 (4…
This study investigates whether communication complexity (presentation of technical information) is a potential source of the challenges auditors encounter in critically evaluating and integrating technical information when auditing complex estimates. Moreover, we examine whether perspective taking (adopting the expert’s perspective) improves auditor’s processing of highly technical evidence when the communication complexity is high. We find that when information content is held constant, but the communication complexity of the expert’s (e.g., specialist’s) evidence is varied, auditors’ judgments demonstrate lower critical evaluation and integration when communication complexity is high versus when it is low. We also find that auditors who take a specialist’s perspective prior to reviewing high communication complexity specialist evidence exhibit higher critical evaluation and integration of the evidence than auditors who do not. Auditors who engage in specialist perspective taking and elect to follow-up on the specialist’s evidence pursue more follow-up questions and allocate more audit effort to testing the specialist’s evidence than other auditors. Regulators and auditors identify these follow-up actions as important inputs to audit quality. Thus, this study provides the first evidence that adopting a specialist’s perspective when auditors are at an expertise disadvantage has the potential to enhance auditor’s judgments and decision-making and has implications for collaboration across geographically distributed and cross-functional teams.