Purpose: This study aims to examine whether accountability and culture have an impact on auditors’ professional scepticism. It also examines whether culture moderates the effect of accountability on auditors’ professional scepticism.
Design/methodology/approach: Three of the Big 4 firms in Australia and Egypt participated in an audit judgement experiment, which required them to indicate their beliefs about the risk of fraud and error at the planning stage of a hypothetical audit and evaluate the truthfulness of explanations provided by the client management. The authors examined whether their professional scepticism was influenced by accountability.
Findings: The results indicate professional scepticism differs significantly between cultures in some situations. The fact that culture influences scepticism suggests that even when auditors use the same standards (such as ISA 240 and ISA 600), they are likely to be applied inconsistently, even within the same firm. The authors, therefore, recommend that international bodies issue additional guidance on cultural values and consider these cultural differences when designing or adopting auditing standards.
Originality/value: To the best of the authors’ knowledge, this is the first study that examines whether culture moderates the impact of accountability on auditors’ professional scepticism using Egyptian and Australian (Middle Eastern and Western) auditors. Prior literature suggests that individuals subject to accountability pressure increase their cognitive effort and vigilance to detect fraud and error. As the authors find evidence that culture moderates accountability pressure and as accountability affects scepticism, they add to the literature suggesting that culture can influence professional scepticism.
- Audit judgement
- Professional scepticism