Electronic Theses and Dissertations

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Ph.D. in Accountancy



First Advisor

Kendall O. Bowlin

Second Advisor

John P. Bentley

Third Advisor

Brett Cantrell

Relational Format



This study experimentally investigates auditors’ reliance on specialists’ work regarding complex estimates. Specifically, this paper examines how the relevance of specialists’ expertise (or the degree to which their prior experience matches the current task), the opportunity for auditor-specialist pairs to communicate, and the level of time pressure affect the extent to which auditors rely on specialists’ estimates. To investigate the research question, I employ a mixed experimental design in an abstract setting, where college students take on the roles of auditor and specialist and work in auditor-specialist pairs to complete an estimation task. I manipulate the relevance of specialists' expertise by providing specialists with training that matches (mismatches) the estimation task that follows, auditor-specialist communication by allowing auditor-specialist pairs to chat (not chat) on the computer, and time pressure by varying the amount of time given to enter each estimate. My results show that the relevance of specialists’ prior experience affects auditors’ perception of specialists’ expertise, which influences auditors’ trust in specialists, ultimately affecting auditors’ reliance in specialists’ advice. Additionally, auditor-specialist communication significantly affects auditors’ reliance on specialists, but only when specialists have relevant prior experience. Furthermore, auditors’ opportunity to communicate with specialists indirectly affects their reliance on specialists through their developed trust due to auditors’ perception of specialists’ expertise rather than a social bond. I also find that auditors’ reliance on specialists is significantly affected by the relevance of specialists’ prior experience, but only when time pressure is low. When time pressure is high, there is no significant difference in auditors’ reliance based on specialists’ prior experience.

Included in

Accounting Commons



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