Greg Berberich


The effects of audit methodology and audit experience on the  development of auditors' knowledge of the client's business

Read the full thesis (PDF).

This dissertation examines how differences between the strategic-systems audit approach and the traditional, transaction-based audit approach affect the content and complexity of client business knowledge in long-term memory, how these mental representations develop with experience, and how the representations affect risk assessment. Knowledge of the client's business is essential to conducting an effective and efficient audit, but researchers have devoted little attention to how this knowledge is represented in memory and what effect it has on audit judgment. Moreover, proponents of the strategic-systems approach argue that this approach leads to the formation of a more-complex client business model and results in better audit judgments than the transaction-based approach. The study's results contradict these claims, with the strategic-systems auditors having less-complex models than their TBA counterparts. Also, no experience-related differences were found in the client models, and risk assessments were only weakly affected by content and complexity differences between client models. After a variety of supplemental analyses, it was concluded that there is no evidence from this dissertation to suggest that the SSA methodology does not result in an auditor possessing an enhanced knowledge of the client's business compared to that possessed by an auditor employing a traditional audit approach.