We investigate how the strictness of a requirement to consult on potential client fraud affects auditors' propensity to consult with firm experts. We consider two specific forms of guidance about fraud consultations: (1) strict, i.e., mandatory and binding; and (2) lenient, i.e., advisory and non-binding. We predict that a strict consultation requirement will lead to greater propensity to consult, particularly under certain client- and engagement-related conditions. Results from two experiments with 163 Dutch audit managers and partners demonstrate that consultation propensity is higher under a strict consultation requirement, but only when underlying fraud risk is high. The strictness effect is also greater under tight versus relaxed time pressure. Further, a strict standard increases auditors' perceived probability that a fraud indicator exists. Overall, we demonstrate that the formulation of a standard can have the desired effect on the judgments of auditors while also creating unexpected incentives that may influence auditor judgments.
|Journal||The Accounting Review|
|Publication status||Published - 2012|