The Effect of Firms’ Information Exposure on Employee
Health: Evidence from COVID-19

We explore how information exposure, specifically information trans-mission within organizations, facilitates companies’ roles as corporatecitizens. We study whether US firms’ business networks with China andItaly become their information advantage, and examine whether firmsuse relevant information to mitigate the negative shocks of COVID-19.We start by validating our measurement of information exposure. Next,we find that a higher number of work-from-home (“WFH”) policies, asevidenced by a higher stay-at-home ratio, are implemented in areas withmore information-exposure companies, even before local governmentsimpose a lockdown. To further demonstrate corporate citizenship, wedocument firms’ positive social impact—lower COVID-19 growth and aninfluence on other firms’ WFH policies—and show suggestive evidenceon firms’ social motives.

Exploring Improvisation in Audit Work through Auditors’ Responses to COVID-19

This paper explores auditors’ responses to unexpected, systematic changes in circumstances. We use the COVID-19 outbreak, a “critical incident” that disrupted all year-end audits in China, to understand this underexplored research area. Based on 24 semi-structured interviews, we first describe how COVID-19 disrupts both formal and informal aspects of audit (i.e., those documented in audit plans according to auditing standards, and those not documented in audit plans). Applying an improvisational lens, we find that in response to disruptions, auditors had to improvise by designing and executing new actions concomitantly to maintain quality and ensure timely audits: auditors modified sequence of audit process, changed format of audit procedures, and produced new behavior. We show that auditors’ improvisation is based on their mobilization of organizational memory, and we discuss consequences of auditors’ improvisation. Our findings suggest that computer-mediated communications with enhanced channels (e.g., audio or visual channels) only partially mitigate the disruption of face-to-face interactions with clients and within teams, while generating additional efforts to establish mutal understanding of files, status, and actions to be taken. Our evidence and discussion of how auditors’ improvisation changes with local versus non-local clients also provide insights regarding the role and setup of local offices.

The Inherent Conflict Between Progressive Tax Rates and Income Inequality: Lessons from COVID-19 Restrictions

We examine the relation between progressive tax rates, income inequality, and state income tax collections. We provide evidence that states with more progressive tax rate structures have higher tax collections. We then show an enhanced relation for states that enacted more stringent COVID-19 restrictions, which increased income inequality. Finally, we find that restrictions were more severe in states that have more progressive tax rates. Our evidence sheds light on the inherent conflict between progressive tax structures and income inequality – income inequality increasing policies result in higher tax collections with a progressive tax system even though the latter reduces income inequality.

Technology during the Pandemic: Ethical Issues and Impact on Professional Accountants

A pandemic is an exceptional context involving radical disruptions for individuals, organizations, and society. Organizations have to rapidly reconstruct their business models and processes, significantly affecting the job setting of individuals, and impacting their behavior. Furthermore, a pandemic affects how individuals interact with technology as they shift to working remotely. We explore the conjunction of the pandemic, ethics, and advanced technologies with a focus on Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Big Data analytics, and their impact on the accounting profession. Ethical considerations evolve among individuals and organizations, and how technology is used has an influence on ethical judgments, ethical decisions, and actions. Some have questioned the aptitude of professional accountants to deal with advanced technology, the latter being seen both as an opportunity and a threat, asking accountants to use ethical judgment and professional skepticism when performing data analysis leading to decision-making. Our research question is: During the pandemic, how have professional accountants considered ethics with respect to the use of advanced technologies? To answer this question, we conduct a review of the academic and practitioner literature on ethics and accounting information systems (AIS), with the aim to contextualize the findings using the ETHOs framework. Our purpose is to document the impact of disruptive technologies on professional accountants during a pandemic.