Error management in audit firms: Error climate, type, and originator

A.H. Gold, U. Gronewold, S.E. Salterio

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review


This paper examines how the treatment of audit staff who discover errors in audit files by superiors affects their willingness to report these errors. The way staff are treated by superiors is labelled as the audit office error management climate. In a "blame-oriented" climate errors are not tolerated and those committing errors are punished. In contrast, an "open" climate characterizes error commitment as a normal, albeit unfortunate aspect of organizational life that offers opportunities for learning without sanctions on the originator. We examine error management climate in the context of audit-specific factors that might affect the decision to report errors: audit error type (conceptual or mechanical) and who committed the error (the individual who discovered it or a peer). An open climate results in an increase in the reporting of mechanical (but not conceptual) errors and all peer errors versus a blame climate. Post hoc findings suggest that one obstacle to reporting conceptual errors stems from an auditor's own impression management concerns. We discuss how auditing standards and regulatory inspections may impact audit firm error management climates.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)303-330
JournalThe Accounting Review
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2014


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