The impact of anecdotal data in regulatory audit firm inspection reports
A critical and pervasive component of firm-specific audit firm inspection reports is the inclusion of detailed descriptions of the deficiencies uncovered by inspection teams. Prior research in psychology indicates that people are likely to focus on such anecdotal information without adequately considering the statistical context provided (e.g., the number of audits that the regulator inspected to find those deficiencies), thereby leading to misperceptions regarding audit firm quality. In this study, managers and other business professionals assumed the role of an audit committee member tasked with evaluating two audit firms. Participants were provided with firm-specific inspection reports where we manipulated both the number of deficiencies reported as well as the number of audits that were inspected at each firm. Our results indicate that participants made decisions consistent with having ignored, or underweighted, the implications of the statistical data provided. That is, participants exhibited an anecdotal bias by focusing on the number of deficiencies reported without appropriately considering the statistical context. This finding is important as it indicates that the common practice of including lists of deficiencies in firm-specific statutory inspection reports can lead to misperceptions of audit firm quality. In addition, we test and provide evidence that two easily implemented decision aids can help to mitigate this problem. Our findings should be of particular interest to audit regulators that currently include, or are considering including, lists of deficiencies in firm-specific reporting. Our study should also be of interest to investors, audit firms, audit committees, managers, researchers, and other stakeholders interested in auditor oversight, auditor reputation and measures of auditor quality.
If you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.
As the access to this document is restricted, you may want to look for a different version under "Related research" (further below) or search for a different version of it.
References listed on IDEAS
Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:
- Michael Firth, 1990. "Auditor Reputation: The Impact of Critical Reports Issued by Government Inspectors," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 21(3), pages 374-387, Autumn.
- Nelson, Mark W. & Bloomfield, Robert & Hales, Jeffrey W. & Libby, Robert, 2001. "The Effect of Information Strength and Weight on Behavior in Financial Markets," Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, Elsevier, vol. 86(2), pages 168-196, November.
- Piercey, M. David, 2009. "Motivated reasoning and verbal vs. numerical probability assessment: Evidence from an accounting context," Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, Elsevier, vol. 108(2), pages 330-341, March.
- Pittman, Jeffrey A. & Fortin, Steve, 2004. "Auditor choice and the cost of debt capital for newly public firms," Journal of Accounting and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 37(1), pages 113-136, February.
- Libby, Robert & Bloomfield, Robert & Nelson, Mark W., 2002. "Experimental research in financial accounting," Accounting, Organizations and Society, Elsevier, vol. 27(8), pages 775-810, November.
- Sattar A. Mansi & William F. Maxwell & Darius P. Miller, 2004. "Does Auditor Quality and Tenure Matter to Investors? Evidence from the Bond Market," Journal of Accounting Research, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 42(4), pages 755-793, 09.
- DeAngelo, Linda Elizabeth, 1981. "Auditor size and audit quality," Journal of Accounting and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 3(3), pages 183-199, December.
- Jeffrey Hales & Xi (Jason) Kuang & Shankar Venkataraman, 2011. "Who Believes the Hype? An Experimental Examination of How Language Affects Investor Judgments," Journal of Accounting Research, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 49(1), pages 223-255, 03.
- Anantharaman, Divya, 2012. "Comparing self-regulation and statutory regulation: Evidence from the accounting profession," Accounting, Organizations and Society, Elsevier, vol. 37(2), pages 55-77.
- Lennox, Clive & Pittman, Jeffrey, 2010. "Auditing the auditors: Evidence on the recent reforms to the external monitoring of audit firms," Journal of Accounting and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 49(1-2), pages 84-103, February.
- Paul K. Chaney, 2002. "Shredded Reputation: The Cost of Audit Failure," Journal of Accounting Research, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 40(4), pages 1221-1245, 09.
- Joseph Weber & Michael Willenborg & Jieying Zhang, 2008. "Does Auditor Reputation Matter? The Case of KPMG Germany and ComROAD AG," Journal of Accounting Research, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 46(4), pages 941-972, 09.
When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:eee:aosoci:v:38:y:2013:i:8:p:621-636. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.
For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Zhang, Lei)
If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.
If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.
If the full references list an item that is present in RePEc, but the system did not link to it, you can help with this form.
If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.
Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.