SYNOPSIS

We survey over 700 auditors about audit workloads and the relationship between audit workloads, perceived audit quality, and job satisfaction. Our findings indicate that auditors are working, on average, five hours per week above the threshold at which they believe audit quality begins to deteriorate and often 20 hours above this threshold at the peak of busy season. Survey respondents cite deadlines and staffing shortages as two of the primary reasons for high workloads and further believe that high workloads result in decreased audit quality. We also find that auditors' job satisfaction is negatively impacted by high audit workloads, particularly when the workloads exceed a threshold that is perceived to impair audit quality. Overall, our findings provide support for the PCAOB's concern that heavy workloads are continuing to threaten audit quality, and suggest that the primary drivers of workloads might be the actual “root cause” of workload-related audit deficiencies.

JEL Classifications: M42; M12.

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