SYNOPSIS

Using a field-based questionnaire, we examine how auditors simultaneously use client-level misstatement risk (inherent risk and control risk) with account subjectivity when utilizing internal audit. We contend that auditor use of internal audit will reflect a balance of the costs and benefits of using internal audit. Prior audit research has primarily focused on lower and higher risk conditions, with relatively few studies examining the implications of moderate risk on internal audit use. Data on actual audits from an instrument administered to external auditors reveal significant differences in reliance decisions across lower, moderate, and higher misstatement risk levels. Results reveal that increases in account subjectivity have no effect on auditors' internal audit reliance when risk of material misstatement is at lower levels. However, auditors increase their internal audit reliance when account subjectivity increases across moderate misstatement risk. Finally, our results suggest that auditors decrease their internal audit reliance when account subjectivity increases across higher misstatement risk. By examining these risk variables in combination, we provide insight into the complexities associated with external auditors' internal audit usage. This research could be of interest to practitioners and academics by providing insight into how multiple risk factors may be combined when utilizing internal audit.

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