SYNOPSIS

This paper examines factors that influence job applicants' willingness to apply for positions in internal auditing. We predict and find evidence that job applicants are dissuaded from applying for internal audit positions. In two separate experiments involving participants at seven universities, we discover that this phenomenon is most prevalent for applicants with business experience. Experienced applicants are 20 and 33 percent less willing to apply for a position if it is labeled as “internal audit” versus “accounting” in the two experiments, respectively. In addition, we find that the only experimental condition that increases interest in applying for an internal audit position for experienced applicants occurs when the position advertises the combination of (1) a short stint in internal auditing and then a move from internal audit into a management position, and (2) work primarily related to consulting services rather than assurance services. As a potential explanation for these findings, we find evidence that participants believe other business professionals have negative stereotypes of internal auditing—which likely dissuade potential job applicants from applying to work in internal audit. The results should prove informative to practitioners, internal audit professional organizations, and business professionals concerned with high-quality corporate governance.

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