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  Partner: UNT Libraries
 Decade: 2010-2019
 Degree Discipline: Accounting
 Collection: UNT Theses and Dissertations
Auditors’ Information Search and Documentation: Does Knowledge of the Client Preference Or PCAOB Accountability Pressure Matter?
Auditors regularly make judgments regarding whether a client’s chosen accounting policy is appropriate and in accordance with generally accepted accounting Principles (GAAP). However, to form this judgment, auditors must either possess adequate topic-specific knowledge or must gain such knowledge through information search. This search is subject to numerous biases, including a bias toward confirmation of a client’s preference. It is important to further our understanding of bias in auditors’ information search to identify its causes and effects. Furthering our understanding is necessary to provide a basis for recommending and evaluating a potential debiaser, such as accountability. the Public Company Accounting Oversight Board (PCAOB) annually inspects the audit files of selected engagements, which introduces a new form of accountability within the auditing profession. This new form of accountability has come at great cost, however, there is little empirical evidence regarding its effects on auditors’ processes. As such, it is important to understand whether the presence of accountability from the PCAOB is effective in modifying auditors’ search behaviors to diminish confirmation bias. Using an online experiment, I manipulate client preference (unknown vs. known) and PCAOB accountability pressure (low vs. high) and measure search type (information –focus or decision-focus), search depth (shallow or deep) and documentation quality. I investigate whether auditors’ information search behaviors differ based on knowledge of client’s preference and in the presence of accountability from an expected PCAOB inspection. I also investigate whether differences in auditors’ information search behaviors influence documentation quality, which is the outcome of greatest concern to the PCAOB. I hypothesize and find a client preference effect on information search type such that auditors with knowledge of the client preference consider guidance associated with the client’s preference longer than those without knowledge of the client’s preference. Contrary to expectations, PCAOB accountability pressure does not influence information search depth. with respect to documentation quality, I find that auditors engaged in a more information-focused search have higher documentation quality. Further, as expected, auditors who initially engage in a decision-focus and deep search have higher documentation quality than those auditors who initially engaged in a decision-focused but shallow search. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc115132/
The Changing Role and Responsibilities of Audit Committees in the United States
The corporate form that developed in the early 20th century created enormous pressure for corporate governance mechanisms to curb the power of corporate managers. Berle and Means, legal pluralists, warned about concentrating economic power in the hands of a small but powerful class of professional managers. They claimed this "new form of absolutism" required governmental oversight and viewed boards of directors as part of management, rather than monitors for shareholders. The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) proposed that corporations establish a special board committee, made up of "nonofficer members" in response to the McKesson & Robbins scandal of the late 1930s. My dissertation examines the evolution of the U.S. corporate audit committee through three specific time periods: (1) 1920-1954; (2) 1955-1986; and (3) 1987 to the passage of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002. My purpose is to determine if evolution of the audit committee throughout these periods has been a reform continually couched in symbolism or whether the audit committee concept has evolved into real reform, allowing proper corporate governance and mitigation of unchecked corporate power. My analysis is a traditional empirical analysis, relying on both primary and secondary sources to develop a coherent ordering of facts. I use narrative in a narrow sense as my historical methodology, examining patterns that emerge and interpreting facts to develop a clear understanding of demands for and uses of audit committees. I use a holistic approach in studying the data, using narrative to show how these patterns ensue from the historical data. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc30519/
An Experimental Examination of the Effects of Fraud Specialist and Audit Mindsets on Fraud Risk Assessments and on the Development of Fraud-Related Problem Representations
Fraud risk assessment is an important audit process that has a direct impact on the effectiveness of auditors' fraud detection in an audit. However, prior literature has shown that auditors are generally poor at assessing fraud risk. The Public Company Accounting Oversight Board (PCAOB) suggests that auditors may improve their fraud risk assessment performance by adopting a fraud specialist mindset. A fraud specialist mindset is a special way of thinking about accounting records. While auditors think about the company's recorded transactions in terms of the availability of supporting documentations and the authenticity of the audit trail, fraud specialists think instead of accounting records in terms of the authenticity of the events and activities that are behind the reported transactions. Currently there is no study that has examined the effects of the fraud specialist mindset on auditors' fraud risk assessment performance. In addition, although recent studies have found that fraud specialists are more sensitive than auditors in discerning fraud risk factors in situation where a high level of fraud risk is present, it remains unclear whether the same can be said for situation where the risk of fraud is low. Thus, the purpose of my dissertation is to examine the effects of fraud specialist and audit mindsets on fraud risk assessment performance. In addition, I examined such effects on fraud risk assessment performance in both high and low fraud risk conditions. The contributions of my dissertation include being the first to experimentally examine how different mindsets impact fraud-related judgment. The results of my study have the potential to help address the PCAOB's desire to improve auditors' fraud risk assessment performance though the adoption of the fraud specialist mindset. In addition, my study contributes to the literature by exploring fraud-related problem representation as a possible mediator of mindset on fraud risk assessment performance. I executed my dissertation by conducting an experiment in which mindset (fraud specialist or audit) was induced prior to the completion of an audit case (high or low in fraud risk). A total of 85 senior-level accounting students enrolled in two separate auditing classes participated in my study. The results from my experimental provide empirical support that it is possible to improve auditors' fraud risk assessment through adapting the fraud specialist mindset. My study also provides preliminary evidence that individuals with the fraud specialist mindset developed different problem representations than those with the audit mindset. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc30447/
An Experimental Examination Of The Effects Of Goal Framing And Time Pressure On Auditors’ Professional Skepticism
Professional skepticism is a critical component of audit practice and current auditing standards direct auditors to remain skeptical throughout the duration of each audit engagement. Despite the importance and prevalence of an emphasis on professional skepticism throughout auditing standards, evidence indicates that auditors often fail to exercise an appropriate degree of professional skepticism. Prior accounting research suggests that auditors’ professionally skeptical behavior is affected by individual personality traits as well as situational (state) influences, whereby both factors contribute to auditor professional skepticism. Yet, prior research has primarily focused on trait skepticism; and little research to date has investigated the concept of state skepticism. The purpose if this research study is to experimentally investigate the impact of time pressure and trait skepticism on state skepticism, and to test a potential debiasing procedure on the impact of time pressure on state skepticism. In addition, this study examines the influence of both skepticism types on skeptical behavior.This research offers several contributions to accounting literature and practice. First, I contribute to the existing debate regarding the influences of professional skepticism by providing evidence that professional skepticism may be categorized as a temporary state, induced by situational aspects, in addition to being classified as an enduring trait. Second, I identify certain situational conditions which create differences in the level of state professional skepticism exhibited within an auditing context. Lastly, my findings may also be important to audit firms as they consider tools within their training arsenal equipped to promote an appropriate level of professional skepticism among employees. If auditor skepticism can be influenced by the frames they are provided, then audit firms may create an environment that promotes consistency in auditors’ application of professional skepticism, simply by engaging in goal framing. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc103383/
Regulation and Political Costs in the Oil and Gas Industry: An Investigation of Discretion in Reporting Earnings and Oil and Gas Reserves Estimates
This study investigates the use of discretion by oil and gas companies in reporting financial performance and oil and gas reserve estimates during times of high political scrutiny resulting from increases in energy prices. Hypotheses tested in prior literature state that companies facing the risk of increasing taxes or new regulations reduce reported earnings to reduce this risk. This study uses a measure of high profitability (rank order of return on assets relative to industry peers) to identify oil and gas companies more likely to manage earnings during the period from 2002 to 2008. Two measures of discretionary accruals (total and current discretionary accruals), and a measure of discretionary depreciation, depletion, and amortization (DDA) were used as indicators of discretion exercised in reporting earnings. Data on oil and gas reserve disclosures was also hand-collected from Forms 10-K to investigate whether managers use reserve estimate revisions to reduce reported earnings through increasing the annual depletion expense. Results suggest that both oil and gas refining and producing firms use negative discretionary accruals to reduce reported earnings. Results also indicate that profitability is an important determinant of the use of negative discretionary accruals by these companies regardless of the time period examined. There is also evidence that oil and gas producing firms opportunistically revise their oil and gas reserve estimates to increase depreciation, depletion, and amortization expense during periods of high oil prices. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc30481/
Stable Book-Tax Differences, Prior Earnings and Earnings Persistence
This study resolves divergent prior findings relating book-tax differences to future earnings, determines whether prior literature has missed relationships between different types of book-tax differences and pre-tax and/or after-tax income, and investigates prior earnings as a factor contributing to the observed relationships. As past research has found that some firms have large book-tax differences over several years, this study separates these firms with large stable book-tax differences from others with large book-tax differences (non-stable) when investigating the link between large book-tax differences and future earnings. Finally, this study investigates whether the relationship between book-tax differences and future earnings reflects information about prior earnings and finds that prior earnings growth explains much of the lower persistence found for firms with large book-tax differences. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc103378/
Tax Compliance in a Social Setting: the Influence of Norms, Perceptions of Fairness, and Trust in Government on Taxpayer Compliance
Many taxing authorities, including those in the United States (U.S.), rely on voluntary tax compliance and continually search for ways to increase tax revenues. Most of these methods are costly and labor intensive, such as audits and penalties for noncompliance. Prior tax compliance research has heavily investigated the influence that economic factors, such as tax rates and penalties, have on individual compliance intentions. However, economic models fail to fully predict individual tax compliance. Psychology literature suggests that social factors may also play an important role in individual tax compliance decisions. The purpose of this study is to examine the influence that social and psychological factors have on individuals' tax compliance intentions. Specifically, a model of taxpayer compliance is hypothesized that suggests that norms, perceived fairness of the tax system, and trust in government have a significant influence on compliance intentions. Results of a survey of 217 U.S. taxpayers found support for the influence of social factors on tax compliance. This research concludes that social norms have an indirect influence on compliance intentions through internalization as personal norms. Specifically, as the strength of social norms in favor of tax compliance increase, personal norms of tax compliance also increase, and this leads to a subsequent increase in compliance intentions. This dissertation also finds that trust in government and the perceived fairness of the tax system have a significant influence on compliance intentions. Supplemental analyses indicate that trust in government fully mediates the relationship between perceived fairness of the tax system and compliance intentions. This research offers several contributions to accounting literature and provides valuable insight for taxing authorities. First, this study examines taxpayer compliance from a psychological, rather than an economics driven, perspective. The suggested model of taxpayer compliance posits that social norms have a significant influence on compliance intentions. This information may help taxing authorities develop less costly and more effective strategies for increasing taxpayer compliance. This study also examines the influence that perceived fairness of the tax system has on compliance intentions. This is a widely debated topic in the media and social settings and may have a particularly strong influence on compliance intentions during these times of political and social arguments regarding tax equity. Finally, trust in government around the world has seen a continual decline. The results indicate that decreased trust in government and decreased perceived fairness of the tax system lead to decreased intention to comply with tax laws. Such information may help governments understand actions they can take to improve tax compliance. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc283805/