Prior research indicates that external auditors are willing to rely to a greater extent on the work of the internal audit (IA) function when the function has been outsourced, or co-sourced, as opposed to maintained in-house. This article addresses the extent to which this relationship between IA sourcing and external auditor reliance is moderated by the use of continuous auditing. One hundred forty-two auditors, all CPAs, participated in an experiment in which we manipulated both IA sourcing type (in-house versus outsourced) and audit type (periodic versus continuous) and measured ratings of external auditor reliance on the IA function. Results indicate that when the IA function uses periodic auditing, external auditors rely more on an outsourced function than an in-house function. However, when the IA function uses continuous auditing, external auditors do not differ in reliance on an outsourced or in-house function. The prior literature suggests that outsourcing an IA function can lead to higher levels of external auditor reliance and subsequently lower external audit costs. The results here suggest that maintaining the IA function in-house and employing continuous auditing may lead to similar external audit effects.

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