Culture controls in audit firms


This study investigates the way audit firms in the Netherlands use culture controls, the extent to which these culture controls result in employees internalizing the organizational objective of high audit quality, and the factors that influence this relationship. More traditional employee controls, such as pay-for-performance and subjective performance evaluation, have not resulted in satisfactory high levels of audit quality (Rapport OOB-accountantsorganisaties 2017).  Audit organizations therefore have been using and emphasizing culture controls in their Management Control Systems.


This research highlights several important themes that can be adapted for education of future and current control system designers and audit managers. This research investigates the importance of culture control. This study provides insights into the unique incentive problem that audit firms face when it comes to motivating their employees. By examining the approach to Culture Controls of different audit firms, the audit firm can also learn from each other’s best practices.

This study provides unique insights into employee motivation to provide high audit quality. This is significant because prior work has shown that auditors’ directionally motivated and biased reasoning to justify acceptance of management-preferred conclusions is robust to interventions such as evaluating the quality, rather than mere acceptability, of management’s accounting and to actively prompting auditors to “step into the shoes” of investors when judging how material proposed audit adjustments are to investors.

Project Number

Research Team
Prof. Jasmijn Bol
Prof. Mark Peecher

Involved University
Tulane University (USA)

09/18 – 12/23