What is it about?

The authors use attribution theory to help understand and provide insight on how subordinate auditors understand, rationalize, and internalize recollections of their actual experiences (both worst and best) with audit review. Respondents externally rationalize worst review experiences as the fault of an inattentive or incompetent supervisor, a flawed engagement review process, or familiar stressors of the audit environment. Worst reviews evoke frustration, invisibility, and powerlessness that can demotivate subordinates. We also find that respondents relationally attribute their best review experiences to reciprocal relationships and effective communication with their supervisor. Best reviews produce feelings of appreciation and a sense of control for subordinates that inspires comradery and a desire to work hard.

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Why is it important?

From a theoretical perspective, to date, only one study empirically examines the relational dimension (Eberly, Holley, Johnson, and Mitchell 2017), but focuses explicitly on a negative work event. We complement that study by examining both negative and positive events. Further, we simultaneously investigate the locus, controllability, and stability dimensions of attributions, as well as the resulting emotions. The limited auditing research on affect indicates that emotions and moods can have significant effects on auditor judgment (Chung, Cohen, and Monroe 2008; Bhattacharjee, Moreno, and Riley 2012; Frank and Hoffman 2015; Nolder and Kadous 2017), but is rarely studied. From a practical perspective, respondents’ insights raise a number of concerns regarding the effectiveness of review as a quality control mechanism and for shaping auditors, but also highlight that a positive role model and effective supervisor-subordinate interactions can help the subordinate grow as a reflexive professional.


This article was one of the most fun and collaborative articles I have written. The actual experiences of auditors were fascinating to read, digest, and turn into meaningful insight on the audit review process. I hope this article lends itself to more research in this area, as well as expands perspectives on methods that can be used to study difficult and complex topics.

Lindsay Andiola
Virginia Commonwealth University

Read the Original

This page is a summary of: It's Not my Fault! Insights into Subordinate Auditors' Attributions and Emotions Following Audit Review, Auditing A Journal of Practice & Theory, April 2018, American Accounting Association,
DOI: 10.2308/ajpt-52132.
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