This study examines the effects of information structure on auditor judgment and decision-making. Based on cognitive load theory, we predict that the variety of evidence inspired by big data such as visualizations or emails likely lead to increased perceptions of ambiguity which in turn impacts audit-related decisions. Additionally, we examine whether those effects are moderated by time budget pressure. We conduct an experiment with 120 auditors and find that auditors presented with varied data, such as emails or visualizations, provide more conservative risk assessments and write down recommendations in an inventory obsolescence setting than auditors presented with a less ambiguous, more traditional memo format. Our findings also indicate that time budget pressure moderates the effects of information structure resulting in the most conservative obsolescence risk and inventory write-down assessments when presented with varied data in a high time budget pressure environment. We believe our study has important implications that should be considered before the implementation of technology-enabled tools to analyze big data on financial statement audits.
A Potential Unintended Consequence of "Big Data": Does Information Structure Lead to Suboptimal Auditor Judgment and Decision-Making?
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Travis Holt, Tina M. Loraas; A Potential Unintended Consequence of "Big Data": Does Information Structure Lead to Suboptimal Auditor Judgment and Decision-Making?. Accounting Horizons 2021; doi: https://doi.org/10.2308/HORIZONS-19-123
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