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Impact of the timing of receipt of an inherited explanation on auditors’ analytical procedures judgements

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The present study extends prior research relating to auditors’ analytical procedures (AP) processes in two ways. First, it examines whether the timing of receipt of an inherited explanation (before or after self-generating explanations) affects auditors’ hypothesis generation. Second, responding to calls to address how the auditors’ performance of the earlier stages of the AP process affects their performance in later stages of that process ( Koonce, 1993; Cohen, Krishnamoorthy and Wright, 2000) the present study concurrently addresses the hypothesis generation, information search, hypothesis evaluation and final judgement stages of the AP process. Consistent with a facilitation effect, more non-error explanations were generated by auditors initially inheriting a non-error explanation. Further, consistent with a recency effect, the initial likelihood assessed for the inherited explanation was higher when it was received after self-generation of alternatives. Despite these initial differences, the timing of the inherited explanation did not significantly affect the auditors’ information search, evaluation processes or outcome performance (in terms of cause selection). Results relating to the receipt of an inherited explanation were similar, except that significantly fewer subjects not inheriting an explanation selected a cause the same as the inherited explanation. These results suggest that although inheriting an explanation from management does affect the outcome of the AP process, it does not lead to fewer correct outcomes, and highlight the importance of examining the AP process in its entirety rather than in a piecemeal manner.

JEL Classification: M42

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: School of Accounting, The University of New South Wales, Sydney, Australia

Publication date: 2004-11-01

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