Commentators express concern that when auditors investigate for but fail to detect fraud, jurors might effectively penalize the auditors for having investigated for the fraud (AICPA, 2004; Coffee, 2004; Golden, Skalak, & Clayton, 2006). Consistent with these concerns, Reffett (2010) finds that, in a between-participants setting, evaluators in cases of undetected fraud are more likely to hold auditors liable for damages when the auditors identified the perpetrated fraud as a fraud risk and then investigated for the fraud, relative to when the auditors did neither. What remains unclear, however, is the extent to which identifying versus investigating fraud risks increases evaluators’ between-participants assessments of auditor liability. That is, when auditors investigate for, but fail to detect fraud, is the increase in evaluators’ liability assessments due to the fact that the auditors identified (i.e., were aware of) the fraud risk but did not detect the fraud, or that the auditors unsuccessfully investigated for the fraud (or both)? This study addresses these questions by reporting evidence that both identifying and investigating fraud risks can each, in isolation, increase evaluators’ perceptions of auditor negligence. The processes by which identifying and investigating fraud risks increase evaluators’ negligence verdicts, however, appear to differ.
Reffett, A. (2014), "The Relative Effects of Identifying Versus Investigating Fraud Risks on Evaluators’ Assessments of Auditor Liability Data Availability: Data and experimental materials used in this study are available upon request.
Data Availability: Data and experimental materials used in this study are available upon request.
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