Audit firms face a constant conflict between the business of auditing and the profession of auditing, which is manifested at audit senior level in the pressure to perform quality work within specified time limits. Prior quantitative studies have reported high levels of quality‐threatening behaviour (QTB) at senior level and the importance of examining contributory factors has been highlighted. Semi‐structured interviews were conducted with audit seniors in four of the (then) Big Five firms and findings suggest that key variables (time pressure, participative target setting, and style of performance evaluation) have been inadequately operationalised in previous studies and that two distinct forms of QTB exist: deliberate and inadvertent. Propositions are developed for variables associated with both forms of QTB, which provide direction and focus for future research.
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