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The effects of the internal control opinion and use of audit data analytics on perceptions of audit quality, assurance, and auditor negligence

Dereck Barr-Pulliam, PhD Brown-Libard, H. Sanderson, K.
Auditing: A Journal of Practice & Theory. June 10, 2021

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Audit data analytics (ADAs) allow auditors to analyze the entire population of transactions which has measurable benefits for audit quality. However, auditors caution that the level of assurance on the financial statements is not incrementally increased. We examine whether the testing methodology and the type of ICFR opinion issued affect jurors’ perceptions of auditor negligence. We predict and find that when auditors issue an unqualified ICFR opinion, jurors make higher negligence assessments when auditors employ statistical sampling than when they employ ADAs. Further, when auditors issue an adverse ICFR opinion, jurors attribute less blame to auditors and more blame to the investor for an audit failure. Additionally, jurors perceive the use of ADAs as an indicator of higher audit quality and are less likely to find auditors negligent. However, jurors do not perceive a difference in the level of assurance provided when auditors use ADAs versus sampling testing methods.