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FAR Practice Note - Partner-Manager Voice Modeling Behavior, and the Effects of Mixed Messages on Audit Teams

Team science research in the organizational behavior (OB) literature shows that successful teams must elicit “voice” from its members, i.e., the willingness to speak up and share information with the team. We propose a framework that recognizes when leaders exhibit their own “voice” behaviors, it creates psychological safety for the team – i.e., it allows team members to feel safe and encouraged to speak up about important audit matters. Analysis of data from 127 audit engagement teams with 754 auditors indicates the following. First, there is a positive and dominant effect on an audit team’s psychological safety (and ultimately on team voice climate and team performance) when managers engage in voice role modeling behavior. However, when the manager is also seen to engage in negative counterproductive behaviors, such as taking “short cuts” during the audit, the positive effects of his / her voice modeling behaviors are lost. This finding shows the importance of avoiding “mixed messages” from the manager, as this leads audit team members to question whether it is safe to speak up. Second, our findings reveal that when the partner and manger differ in emphasizing voice behaviors (one high, one low), these mixed (inconsistent) messages did not diminish perceived team psychological safety. Thus, if at least one leader (either the partner or the manager) is enacting high levels of voice role modeling behavior, the team still has high psychological safety and team voice climate. The results emphasize the need for leadership training to help partners and managers demonstrate, through their own “voice” leadership behaviors, that there is an environment of psychological safety that enables voice for the audit team. However inconsistent signals from team leaders can potentially compromise the team’s sense of psychological safety. 


Prof. dr. Jere R. Francis

Professor Jere Francis is ranked among the top ten academics to publish in leading scientific journals in the field of accountancy research. He won two awards from the American Accounting Association (AAA) for his substantial contribution to auditing research. He was also named Outstanding Audit Educator in 2013 by the AAA. Professor Francis served on the editorial boards of several leading scientific journals, including Abacus, Accounting Organizations & Society, Accounting & Finance, Auditing: A Journal of Practice & Theory, Contemporary Accounting Research, Journal of Accounting & Economics, Review of Accounting Studies, and The Accounting Review. In addition to being of scientific import, his research has been of practical significance to accountants and regulatory authorities and he has presented his research to leading international accountancy firms, the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants, the World Bank and the Public Company Accounting Oversight Board in the United States. As FAR Research Chair, Professor Francis conducts scientific research on the quality of audits. He will also boost auditing education in the Netherlands with the help of several PhD students as part of this chair position.

Prof. dr. Murray R. Barrick

Professor Barrick’s research focuses on the impact individual differences in behavior and personality have on job performance and on methods of measuring and predicting such differences.  He also is a co-author of the Theory of Purposeful Work Behavior, which highlights the role of purposefulness and experienced meaningfulness arising within the person as a key to explaining person-situation interactions.  Further, Barrick studies executive team success, examining the role of the CEO, personality and leadership of TMT members, team composition, team interdependence, and team processes on individual, team, and firm performance.  Finally, he also has examined the influence candidate self-presentation tactics have on the interviewer during an employment interview.

Prof. dr. Olof Bik RA

Olof Bik is professor of Auditing & Assurance at the University of Groningen. In his research he takes a special interest in the study of culture, leadership, and behavior in the realm of the auditing and assurance profession, firms, and teams. Since its inception in 2015 until 2022, Bik was one of two managing directors and academic member of the Board of the Foundation for Auditing Research. He worked in the audit practice of PwC for 18 years, since 2002 always in combination with a university appointment (Groningen), and joined academia in full since 2012 (Nyenrode). 

Dr. Lena Pieper

Lena Pieper is Assistant Professor at Gies College of Business at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. She joined Gies after completing a PhD from Maastricht University’s School of Business and Economics in the Netherlands. Lena spent time at Gies as a visiting PhD student in Spring 2022, and she brings research experience in auditing and leadership.

Prof. dr. Ann Vanstraelen

Ann Vanstraelen is Full Professor of Accounting and Assurance Services at Maastricht University and serves as Head of the department of Accounting and Information Management. She coordinates the multidisciplinary research theme "Culture, Ethics and Leadership". She earned her PhD at the University of Antwerp. Her research interests relate to the broad field of auditing and assurance services, governance, corporate reporting and disclosure, with a specific focus on the quality of accounting and auditing practices. 


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