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 Rich, Yuepin Zhou

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Regulation requires auditors to raise significant audit issues and concerns to the attention of audit engagement leadership and requires leadership to encourage such communication. This research 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)
Pages (from-to)2113-2141
Number of pages29
JournalContemporary Accounting Research
Volume36
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - Dec 1 2019

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Accounting
  • Finance
  • Economics and Econometrics

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