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Auditor-client management relationships and roles in negotiating financial reporting

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  • McCracken, Susan
  • Salterio, Steven E.
  • Gibbins, Michael
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    Abstract

    We carry out an interview based field study of chief financial officer (CFO)-audit partner dyads to examine the assumption that the roles played by each side and the nature of the relationships are similar across negotiations. These dyads freely discussed with us their relationship, a specific issue negotiated and it's resolution process. Employing the lens of social positioning negotiation research, we find these negotiations are 'fluid', with continual redefinition not only of the substantive issues under negotiation, but also of the negotiation roles and relationships (i.e. 'shadow' negotiations). The CFO's actions and expectations in these 'shadow' negotiations appear to define the auditor's role and the relationship's parameters, but both can evolve over time. The audit partners express a desire to be in the "ideal" relationship where they assume the role of the 'expert advisor' (as opposed to a 'police officer') but they seemingly have no explicit strategy to move the relationship toward a 'proactive' (rather than 'reactive') state. Furthermore, the audit partner is always the 'relationship manager' whose job it is to see that client management remains "happy". These roles and relationships negotiated in the 'shadows' also affect how the negotiation process unfolds, including the set of alternative accounting treatments considered during negotiations. Finally, audit firms appear to manage the assignment of partners to engagements based on CFO preferences and remove those partners who are in "poor" relationships, irrespective of why the relationship is considered by the CFO to be "poor". Implications for the broader research program on auditor-client management negotiations are discussed.

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    Bibliographic Info

    Article provided by Elsevier in its journal Accounting, Organizations and Society.

    Volume (Year): 33 (2008)
    Issue (Month): 4-5 ()
    Pages: 362-383

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    Handle: RePEc:eee:aosoci:v:33:y:2008:i:4-5:p:362-383

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    Web page: http://www.elsevier.com/locate/aos

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    References

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    1. Radcliffe, Vaughan S., 1999. "Knowing efficiency: the enactment of efficiency in efficiency auditing," Accounting, Organizations and Society, Elsevier, vol. 24(4), pages 333-362, May.
    2. Power, Michael, 1997. "Expertise and the construction of relevance: Accountants and environmental audit," Accounting, Organizations and Society, Elsevier, vol. 22(2), pages 123-146, February.
    3. Power, Michael K., 2003. "Auditing and the production of legitimacy," Accounting, Organizations and Society, Elsevier, vol. 28(4), pages 379-394, May.
    4. Cooper, David J. & Robson, Keith, 2006. "Accounting, professions and regulation: Locating the sites of professionalization," Accounting, Organizations and Society, Elsevier, vol. 31(4-5), pages 415-444.
    5. Gendron, Yves & Bedard, Jean, 2006. "On the constitution of audit committee effectiveness," Accounting, Organizations and Society, Elsevier, vol. 31(3), pages 211-239, April.
    6. Dirsmith, Mark W. & Heian, James B. & Covaleski, Mark A., 1997. "Structure and agency in an institutionalized setting: The application and social transformation of control in the Big Six," Accounting, Organizations and Society, Elsevier, vol. 22(1), pages 1-27, January.
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    Cited by:
    1. Chen, Qiu & Kelly, Khim & Salterio, Steven E., 2012. "Do changes in audit actions and attitudes consistent with increased auditor scepticism deter aggressive earnings management? An experimental investigation," Accounting, Organizations and Society, Elsevier, vol. 37(2), pages 95-115.
    2. X. Walthoff-Borm & L. Chalmet, 2013. "Behind closed doors: the potential of lean management in safety audit services," Working Papers of Faculty of Economics and Business Administration, Ghent University, Belgium 13/838, Ghent University, Faculty of Economics and Business Administration.
    3. Yim, Andrew, 2013. "Mixture and Continuous 'Discontinuity' Hypotheses: An Earnings Management Model with Auditor-Required Adjustment," MPRA Paper 44702, University Library of Munich, Germany.

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