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Title:Auditors’ acceptance of client-preferred financial reporting: the influence of professional role identities and client importance
Author(s):Hillison, Sean M
Director of Research:Bauer, Tim D
Doctoral Committee Chair(s):Peecher, Mark E
Doctoral Committee Member(s):Hobson, Jessen L; Mahoney, Joseph T
Department / Program:Accountancy
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Subject(s):Auditor objectivity
Financial reporting
Professional role identity
Identity theory
Client importance
Motivated reasoning
Abstract:Auditors protect our capital markets by assuming a stakeholder interest role of constraining aggressive, client-preferred financial reporting; in order to profitably operate as a business, however, they also must undertake a commercial role of acquiring or retaining profitable clients. In this dissertation, I examine and report the results of two experiments, testing whether the salience of auditors’ professional role identities (stakeholder interest versus commercial) and client importance (lower versus higher) interact to jointly influence decisions about client financial reporting. Drawing on research in psychology, I predict and find that seasoned audit partners, compared to lower-ranked audit seniors, allow more aggressive client accounting recognition when a commercial versus stakeholder interest role identity is salient, but only when serving clients of lower importance. Audit partners with a salient stakeholder interest role identity request more conservative client accounting recognition regardless of client importance level. When the stakes of making an incorrect decision are lower (i.e., lower client importance), identity-related information processing biases are more likely to manifest, yet as decision stakes increase (i.e., higher client importance), accuracy motivations attenuate the identity effects. In addition, I find that audit partners treat the paired decision of accounting recognition and financial statement disclosure transparency (collectively, financial reporting) differently depending on client importance level. Specifically, audit partners request more conservative accounting recognition, but allow less financial statement disclosure transparency, particularly when client importance is higher. A comparison of audit partner and audit senior judgments reveals that, expectedly, lower-ranked audit seniors are not as influenced by professional role identity and client importance.
Issue Date:2017-04-14
Rights Information:Copyright 2017 Sean Michael Hillison
Date Available in IDEALS:2017-08-10
Date Deposited:2017-05

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