It Goes Without Saying

The Effects of Intrinsic Motivational Orientation, Leadership Emphasis of Intrinsic Goals, and Audit Issue Ambiguity on Speaking Up

Kathryn Kadous, Chad A. Proell, Jay S. Rich, Yuepin Zhou

Research output: Working paper

Abstract

PCAOB AS10 requires auditors to raise significant audit issues and concerns to the attention of audit engagement leadership and requires leadership to encourage such communication. This paper demonstrates, using an experiment and a survey, that audit team members’ willingness to speak up about such issues is associated with their intrinsic motivational orientation. Based on this result, we test whether audit leadership can leverage this relationship to increase speaking up, particularly when audit issues are more ambiguous, by emphasizing intrinsic goals. Results across three additional experiments indicate that auditors whose leaders emphasize intrinsic goals, whether directly or through tone at the top and firm culture, are more likely to speak up than are other auditors. We also find that auditors are more likely to speak up when an audit issue is less versus more ambiguous. We conclude that leadership can fulfill their obligation to encourage upward communication by emphasizing intrinsic versus extrinsic goals, regardless of the level of ambiguity surrounding the audit issue.
Original languageEnglish (US)
Number of pages60
DOIs
StatePublished - Apr 15 2017

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Audit
Intrinsic
Auditors
Experiment
Communication
Leverage
Willingness
PCAOB
Obligation

Keywords

  • Audit Teams
  • Information Sharing
  • Leadership
  • Employee Voice
  • Experiment
  • Survey

Cite this

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abstract = "PCAOB AS10 requires auditors to raise significant audit issues and concerns to the attention of audit engagement leadership and requires leadership to encourage such communication. This paper demonstrates, using an experiment and a survey, that audit team members’ willingness to speak up about such issues is associated with their intrinsic motivational orientation. Based on this result, we test whether audit leadership can leverage this relationship to increase speaking up, particularly when audit issues are more ambiguous, by emphasizing intrinsic goals. Results across three additional experiments indicate that auditors whose leaders emphasize intrinsic goals, whether directly or through tone at the top and firm culture, are more likely to speak up than are other auditors. We also find that auditors are more likely to speak up when an audit issue is less versus more ambiguous. We conclude that leadership can fulfill their obligation to encourage upward communication by emphasizing intrinsic versus extrinsic goals, regardless of the level of ambiguity surrounding the audit issue.",
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