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Journal Article

The Effects of Alternative Justification Memos on the Judgments of Audit Reviewees and Reviewers

Christopher P. Agoglia, Thomas Kida and Dennis M. Hanno
Journal of Accounting Research
Vol. 41, No. 1 (Mar., 2003), pp. 33-46
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/3542243
Page Count: 14
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The Effects of Alternative Justification Memos on the Judgments of Audit Reviewees and Reviewers
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Abstract

Prior research on justification has typically focused on the differences in judgments between auditors required, or not required, to justify their decisions. However, justification memos can be prepared using different approaches. In this study we examine the impact of using three justification memos: supporting, balanced, and component. Using a comprehensive control environment case based on an actual client that experienced fraud, we find that the justification memo used can affect the judgments of auditors preparing the memos as well as the judgments of auditors who review their work. Specifically, the results indicate that auditors using an unrestricted component memo, who were required to write memos for components of their task by providing important positive and negative evidence, thought that the firm's control environment was more likely to prevent fraud as compared with the supporting and balanced memo groups. Additional analyses suggest that the reason for this result is that an unrestricted component memo focuses auditors' attention on a larger percentage of positive control environment characteristics when a firm's underlying evidence set is mostly positive. This may be problematic because firms can have more positive than negative control environment characteristics, even when fraud is present.

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