Despite concerns that profit-sharing plans might have a detrimental effect on audit quality, there is little empirical evidence on this issue. We examine the effects of the type of profit-sharing plan, level of client importance, and auditor reinforcement sensitivity (joint sensitivity to rewards and punishments) on auditor reporting decisions. By relying on agency theory and reinforcement sensitivity theory, we posit that the joint effects of profit sharing and client importance on auditors' decisions are contingent on reinforcement sensitivity. In an experiment with 450 audit partners and managers, we manipulate type of profit-sharing plan and client importance, and measure extroversion and neuroticism. We find the highest audit quality when profit sharing is based on firm performance, client importance is low, and reinforcement sensitivity is high. Thus, instead of just modifying the type of profit-sharing plans, it is the mix of economic incentives and personality traits that affect audit quality.
The Effects of Profit-Sharing Plans, Client Importance, and Reinforcement Sensitivity on Audit Quality
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Herman van Brenk, Barbara Majoor, Arnold M. Wright; The Effects of Profit-Sharing Plans, Client Importance, and Reinforcement Sensitivity on Audit Quality. AUDITING: A Journal of Practice & Theory doi: https://doi.org/10.2308/AJPT-18-118
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