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2021B04 - Auditors aren’t cut from the same cloth: Why management controls don’t have the same effect for all auditors (Prof. dr. P.M.G. van Veen-Dirks)


Despite the importance that auditing firms attach to ensuring audit quality, they still struggle with how they can better provide this quality to their clients as well as to the capital market and society in general (Verschoor, 2018; Wyatt, 2004). Auditing firms find that it is challenging to motivate auditors to improve audit quality, especially given the complex nature of many auditing tasks (Kadous & Zhou, 2019; Peecher, Solomon, & Trotman, 2013). For financial incentives to be effective in motivating auditors, they need to be tied to particular audit actions or results, which is difficult given the high level of professional judgement needed for financial statement auditing and for other assurance tasks (Kadous & Zhou, 2019).


Even though audit quality is known to be key to reporting quality, the capital market, and the society at large, auditing firms have persistent problems with ensuring a consistently high job performance of auditors, and, thus, audit quality. With three distinct, but interconnected research projects, we contribute to the knowledge about ways to increase audit quality. Specifically, we address the question of the interplay between the management control system the auditors are subjected to and their individual characteristics can improve their job attitudes and also, ultimately, help improve audit quality. Our three projects all start from the observation that auditing firms are increasingly facing a dearth of qualified experts; thus, keeping the workforce motivated and satisfied with their jobs and retaining professionally qualified employees has become increasingly paramount for ascertaining consistent audit quality. Moreover, the workforce is becoming more heterogeneous. As a result, auditing firms need to create an organizational environment that is not only able to enhance auditors’ motivation to improve audit quality, but also retain and allow a diverse set of qualified employees to thrive. One crucial aspect of this organizational environment is the management control system, i.e., all the practices and procedures that are used by a firm to ensure that the auditors engage with the achievement of organizational goals. However, just because a certain management control system is in place does not mean that the results envisaged will result. Instead, we suggest that these results depend on the individual characteristics (i.e., personality traits) of the auditors confronted with the management control system.

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  • Project Number
  • Research team
    Prof. dr. P.M.G. van Veen-Dirks
    Dr. L. Bellora-Bienengräber
    Prof. S.K. Widener
  • Involved University
    Rijksuniversiteit Groningen
  • Timeline
    06/22 - 05/26