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Department of Business and Management Science, Norwegian School of Economics (NHH) Discussion Papers, Department of Business and Management Science, Norwegian School of Economics (NHH)

No 2004/1:
Auditor Detected Misstatements and the Effect of Information Technology

Lizabeth A. Austen (), Aasmund Eilifsen () and William F. Messier Jr. ()

Abstract: This paper presents information on the causes and detection of misstatements by auditors and the relationship of those misstatements with information technology (IT). The last major study of misstatements and IT used data that was gathered in 1988. In the intervening period, there have been significant changes in IT, possibly altering the error generation and detection process. Two research questions related to detected misstatements and the effect of IT are examined. The six largest public accounting firms in Norway provided data from 58 engagements. We find that (1) the major causes of misstatements were missing, poorly designed, and improperly applied controls; inadequate methods used to select, train and supervise accounting personnel; and an excessive workload for accounting personnel, (2) missing and poorly designed controls, and excessive workload for accounting personnel were more likely to be causes of misstatements in computerized business processes than those that were not computerized, and (3) the increased use of tests of details over attention directing procedures on audits appears to result from auditors deciding that it is more effective or efficient to conduct such tests than rely upon IT controls. These findings have important implications for both audit practitioners and researchers.

Keywords: Audit misstatements; Misstatement causes; Audit procedures; and Information technology; (follow links to similar papers)

JEL-Codes: M42; (follow links to similar papers)

26 pages, March 12, 2004

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