Auditors on auditing - an empirical study

Peter Öhman*, Einar Häckner**, Anna-Maria Jansson*** & Finn Tschudi****

* Mid Sweden University Department of Social Sciences 851 70, Sundsvall, Sweden Email: ** Luleå University of Technology Department of Business Administration and Social Sciences 971 87 Luleå, Sweden Email: *** Mid Sweden University Department of Social Sciences 831 25, Östersund, Sweden Email: **** University of Oslo Department of Psychology 0317 Oslo, Norway Email:

Auditors on auditing - an empirical study


Based on agency theory, an accountability model has been developed to describe and analyse the views of Swedish auditors regarding their reviewing of information provided by listed companies. 82 auditors were interviewed using the repertory grid technique and open interview questions. A sample of respondents was chosen to represent differences in experience, level of seniority, gender, firm and location. To check the stability in the thought patterns of the respondents, six retests were made and, to validate the results, two expert panels consisting of auditors and other representatives of the accounting and auditing profession were consulted. Principal component analysis of the mean grid for all the respondents showed a number of distinct patterns. The first component was related to judgement and the time-dimension and the second to auditing in practice. Auditors devote a relatively long time and considerable effort to issues that can be satisfactorily verified, but that are not of primary importance to the investors or to share prices. This auditing does not in any way violate the law or regulations, but the fact that they spend so much time reviewing auditing issues that they themselves do not consider to be of primary importance to stakeholders can be seen as a problem. Moreover, the auditors were very reluctant to make...