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THE EXTENDED CLAN: EXTERNAL INFLUENCES ON AUDIT TEAM BEHAVIOUR

THE EXTENDED CLAN: EXTERNAL INFLUENCES ON AUDIT TEAM BEHAVIOUR,Breda Sweeney,Bernard Pierce

THE EXTENDED CLAN: EXTERNAL INFLUENCES ON AUDIT TEAM BEHAVIOUR  
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This study examines the perceived ability of clients to influence audit team behaviour, specifically in the context of the audit firm's control systems. Semi-structured interviews were carried out with 18 client staff from 7 publicly listed companies who interacted on an ongoing basis with the audit team. Factors impacting on opportunities for influencing audit team behaviour and perceived motives for exercising influence are uncovered, along with examples of direct and indirect methods of influence. A number of implications of the findings for audit firms and the profession are identified, such as the need to reduce the predictability of audit testing and to improve the education and training of accountants. Contingency theory emphasises the importance of considering the external environment in examining the suitability of a control system and the findings reveal previously unidentified client-related contingent factors impacting on the effectiveness of the auditor's control system. Furthermore, the findings give an external perspective on the current weaknesses in the control system of auditors and suggest that audit client staff engage in a form of inter-organisational defence mechanisms and play an active part in helping the audit team resolve cost-quality conflict. Moreover, evidence of a clan type relationship between audit team and client staff suggests a form of clan control that transcends organisational boundaries.
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