Abstract

The general goal behind this research is to gain a better understanding of factors leading to dysfunctional behavior of auditors. The role of auditors has been a controversial issue especially after the recent accounting scandals (WorldCom, Enron, Paramalat SpA, Waste Management Inc., Xerox Corporation, and Société Générale). In relation to these scandals and lawsuits, a question is frequently asked “where were the auditors?” The survey we offer up for research is made up of 34 questions that are designed to analyse the perception of auditors and the cause of dysfunctional behavior. The object of this research is comprised of auditors positioned and employed at the Big Four audit firms in Kuwait. The selected sample is comprised from auditors at different levels ranging from audit trainees to audit partners. The so-called stakeholder theory talks about the relationship between audit behavior and audit firm practices with time deadlines and time budgets involved. It is generally accepted that the more auditors align their interests with firms’ measures and practices, the more a firm is capable of meeting general goals and objectives. Consequently, this may result in a less dysfunctional workplace conduct. Dysfunctional behavior (DB) is analysed against two signalling proxies of dysfunctional behavior; premature sign-off and under reporting of chargeable time. DB is analysed against time budget and time deadline pressures. The results suggest that the general belief among auditors is that the profession of accountancy predetermines their tendency to commit certain patterns of dysfunctional behavior. The results indicate that auditors understand that dysfunctional behavior is exercised by the majority of auditors. Dysfunctional behaviour is exercised with intention and it is not committed out of ignorance. One of the interesting findings is that auditors, at all levels, are concerned about their reputation. Thus, dysfunctional behavior is exercised, to a certain extent, without harming the quality of the audit work. Having our investigation conducted at the Big Four audit firms, we have come to the conclusion that there is a general difference in behavior patterns among perceptions of dysfunctional behavior and normal skeptic professional behavior. Audit firms should continuously conduct workshop and training events related to dysfunctional behavior. It is revealed that some auditors are not aware that certain practices are considered dysfunctional behavior or not. This research work can be used to aid audit practitioners to mitigate audit dysfunctional behavior. It highlights certain type of practices that is exercised in an improper way.

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Additional Information

ISSN
1548-2278
Print ISSN
0022-037X
Pages
pp. 373-388
Launched on MUSE
2016-02-14
Open Access
No
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