An analysis of the impact of locus‐of‐control on internal auditor job performance and satisfaction

Dennis M. Patten (Department of Accounting, Illinois State University, Normal, Illinois, USA)

Managerial Auditing Journal

ISSN: 0268-6902

Publication date: 1 December 2005



To examine whether internal auditors' job performance and/or job satisfaction are related to differences in the personality variable locus‐of‐control (LOC) and its relation to perceived audit structure.


A sample of 50 internal auditors drawn from six US firms completed a survey instrument used to identify respondents' degree of LOC, perceived audit structure and job satisfaction. Performance ratings were provided by participants' managers.


The study finds that those internal auditors with more internal LOC tendencies appear to outperform cohorts with more external traits. Contrary to expectations, reported job satisfaction levels for internals are not significantly different from sample members with more external LOC. However, internal auditors with an apparent conflict between their LOC and their perceived level of audit structure do report significantly lower levels of job satisfaction than cohorts without such conflict.

Research limitations/implications

The relatively small sample size may reduce the power of some of the tests performed. Future studies might want to also attempt to control for other personality or task‐related attributes.

Practical implications

Results suggest that an understanding of audit structure and its relation to LOC may aid audit departments (and firms) looking to increase performance and/or retention of their staff.


This study expands LOC/structure research both by extending the examination to the internal audit environment and by investigating the impacts on job satisfaction as well as performance.



Patten, D. (2005), "An analysis of the impact of locus‐of‐control on internal auditor job performance and satisfaction", Managerial Auditing Journal, Vol. 20 No. 9, pp. 1016-1029.

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Copyright © 2005, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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