Inproceedings: an article in a conference proceedings.
The impact of authority advice and accountability on auditors' decision to recognise norm-violating transactions.
Title of the conference
11th Congress of the Swiss Psychological Society
Auditors face the difficult responsibilty to approve companies' financial accounting information reliably. They are trained to work according to accounting standards that are designed to help them in their decision making. Yet, auditors do not work in a social vacuum and are thus subject to various influences. One important source of influence at work is authority figures (e.g., experts, supervisors). On this background, we examined within two studies the impact of (1) authority advice to comply with accounting standards or to additionally maximize profits and (2) of participants' accountability for their decision. In Study 1, (n = 184 accounting students), participants who were advised by an authority to comply with accounting standards had a lower probability to recognise transactions that violated those standards than participants who were advised to comply but also to maximise profit. However, holding participants accountable for their decision reduced the difference between the two groups. In Study 2, (n = 58 managers), we again found an interaction between authority advice and accountability. But unlike the first study, participants only showed a lower probability to recognise transactions that violated accounting standards when they were held accountable and when the authority only advised them to comply with the standards. We discuss our results in light of unethical decision making and different norms or pressures to which managers may be exposed but students may not.
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