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The Changing Role and Responsibilities of Audit Committees in the United States

Description: 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.
Date: August 2010
Creator: Teed, Dan Graham

A Reexamination of the Dilution of Auditor Misstatement Risk Assessments: An Experimental Study of the Impact of Client Information Type, Workload, and PCAOB Guidance on Dilution

Description: Many external parties such as investors, creditors, and regulatory agencies, use a company’s financial statements in their decision-making. In doing so, they rely on audit opinions on whether financial statements are fairly stated. However, evidence suggests that there are factors in the audit environment that influence auditor judgments. For example, nondiagnostic client information dilutes auditor judgments when compared to judgments based on diagnostic information alone, especially for less experienced auditors (Hackenbrack 1992; Hoffman and Patton 1997; Glover 1994; Shelton 1999). High time pressure conditions mitigate this effect by refocusing auditor attention toward relevant client information, therefore reducing the impact of nondiagnostic information (Glover 1994, 1997). This research study examines other common audit environment factors to determine if they too influence audit judgment results. An online questionnaire of 149 auditors, CPAs and other accounting professionals indicate that the inclusion of nondiagnostic client information results in a significant change in auditor judgments. The direction of this change follows a theorized pattern; risk assessments that were initially high are reduced, while those that were initially low are increased. Significance was not consistently found for a workload and PCAOB effect on auditor judgment. However, a comparison of the absolute value of dilution effect means across conditions reveals some trending for the proposed unwanted effect of high workload, and the beneficial effect of PCAOB guidance. These results have important implications for auditing research and practice. It extends previous archival research on workload effects and uses a unique questionnaire design to reexamine workload pressures in a behavioral setting. The results of hypothesis testing on workload pressure and PCAOB guidance, although lacking consistent statistical significance; exhibit trends that agree with proposed theoretical relationships. Tests on the effects of nondiagnostic information show strong statistical support for previous studies in the area of psychology and audit. This study’s greatest ...
Date: December 2015
Creator: Perry, Suzanne M.

A Study of Firm Location to Examine Disclosures and Governance Using a Dual Approach: Quantitative Analysis Based Upon the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002 and Qualitative Analysis of the Annual Report’s Management Discussion and Analysis

Description: The purpose of this dissertation is to investigate the effect of U.S. firms’ geographic location, whether urban or rural, on their corporate disclosure and governance practices. An “urban” firm is one that is headquartered in a large metropolitan area; whereas, a “rural” firm is one that is headquartered some distance from any metropolitan area. Specifically, the study examines whether there are different stock market reactions to urban and rural firms around key event dates relative to the enactment of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act (SOX) on July 30, 2002. Also, the readability and linguistic style in the Management Discussion and Analysis (MD&A) section of public company’s annual reports (Form 10-K) to the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) are investigated to determine whether urban and rural firms communicate information differently to investors.
Date: May 2015
Creator: Garner, Steve A.