Enhancing auditors' critical thinking in audits of complex estimates | Weatherhead

Enhancing auditors' critical thinking in audits of complex estimates

Enhancing auditors' critical thinking in audits of complex estimates

Authors

Published

Accounting, Organizations and Society, vol. 73, pp. 35-49, February 2019

Website

http:// https://authors.elsevier.com/a/1YgOH1IAcOIFiE

Abstract

Audit practitioners, standards, and regulators continually emphasize the importance of professional judgment in the audit of complex processes and financial estimates. Despite this increasing call for more thoughtful analysis, research and inspection reports seem to suggest that auditors tend to make mechanistic audit decisions in such situations. This experiment evaluates auditor participants' improved application of professional judgment in the audit of complex estimates when taught a specific critical thinking methodology from system dynamics. Results indicate that emphasizing the use of professional judgment is not sufficient to decrease auditors' mechanistic mentality. As expected, however, auditors primed to take a systems-thinking perspective are better able to evaluate the complexity of the situation and to more effectively apply professional judgment. These results suggest that the goal of improving professional judgment can be achieved with an underlying change to the way auditors think.