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A comparison of auditor and non‐auditor performance evaluations: Are accountants harsh critics?

Steve Buchheit (Rawls College of Business, Texas Tech University, Lubbock, Texas, USA)
William R. Pasewark (Rawls College of Business, Texas Tech University, Lubbock, Texas, USA)
Jerry R. Strawser (Mays Business School, Texas A&M University, College Station, Texas, USA)

Managerial Auditing Journal

ISSN: 0268-6902

Article publication date: 1 January 2009

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Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to investigate whether audit professionals exhibit greater performance evaluation bias compared to non‐accounting professionals.

Design/methodology/approach

Both audit and non‐accounting professional subjects read a case study and evaluated the performance of a hypothetical subordinate. Two factors were manipulated the subordinate's work performance history and the subordinate's current performance relative to a budget.

Findings

It was found that reputation bias and hindsight bias are prevalent in both professional groups. The groups exhibit no difference with respect to reputation bias; however, it was found that public accountants exhibit significantly greater hindsight bias relative to non‐accounting professionals.

Practical implications

The paper provides evidence that accountants are relatively harsh critics of subordinate performance. Importantly, the paper investigates accountant vs non‐accountant comparisons where subordinates' ex ante decisions are consistent with superiors' ex ante guidance (i.e. ex post performance being either favorable vs unfavorable is purely outcome‐effect driven). If the findings are robust, this study provides a fundamental reason why employee retention in public accounting is relatively low.

Originality/value

This paper is the first to make direct comparisons of performance evaluation bias effects between auditors and similarly experienced working professions.

Keywords

Citation

Buchheit, S., Pasewark, W.R. and Strawser, J.R. (2009), "A comparison of auditor and non‐auditor performance evaluations: Are accountants harsh critics?", Managerial Auditing Journal, Vol. 24 No. 1, pp. 22-38. https://doi.org/10.1108/02686900910919884

Publisher

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Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2009, Emerald Group Publishing Limited