In this study, we investigate whether receiving an auditor inquiry via e-mail differentially affects client responses as compared to more traditional modes of inquiry, and whether those responses are affected by the auditor's professional tone. In an experiment, experienced business professionals respond to an auditor's information request regarding a potential accounting adjustment. We varied the communication mode of the request (e-mail, audio, or visual) and the professional tone of the communication (more versus less professional) and then measured the extent to which participants revealed information that either supported or did not support the client's accounting position. We find that if an auditor asks for information via e-mail, client responses are more biased towards information that supports the client's position as compared to audio or visual inquiries. In addition, we find that clients respond in a more biased manner when the inquiry is worded in a less professional tone as compared to a more professional tone. Further underscoring the implications of these findings for audit outcomes, our results suggest that if an auditor's request leads clients to provide a response that is biased towards client-supporting information, clients may be less likely to agree with an auditor's proposed income-decreasing adjustment.
Audit inquiry; Communication mode; Negotiation; Professionalism
Accounting | Business and Corporate Communications
The Effects of an Auditor's Communication Mode and Professional Tone on Client Responses to Audit Inquiries.
Accounting, Organizations and Society, 65
Available for download on Wednesday, November 06, 2019