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CURRENT ISSUES IN AUDITING

Vol. 10, No. 2


Fall 2016
pp. A14A27

American Accounting Association


DOI: 10.2308/ciia-51479

The Effects of Auditor Experience and


Professional Commitment on Acceptance
of Underreporting Time: A Moderated
Mediation Analysis
David N. Herda
Kasey A. Martin
Texas State University
SUMMARY: Underreporting time is a common ethical dilemma in auditing. We examine
the effects of professional commitment and experience on auditor acceptance of
underreporting time with a sample of 110 practicing auditors at two large national
accounting firms. Using a moderated mediation research model, we find that auditor
experience moderates the negative relationship between professional commitment and
acceptance of underreporting time, such that professional commitment is associated with
underreporting acceptance only among less experienced auditors. We discuss the
contributions, limitations, and practical implications of our findings.
Keywords: underreporting time; professional commitment; dysfunctional audit
behavior; ethical culture; auditor experience.
Data Availability: Please contact the first author.

INTRODUCTION

nderreporting time is a common ethical dilemma among auditors and has several
detrimental consequences for public accounting firms (Pickerd, Summers, and Wood
2015). Underreporting time can impact audit fee negotiations with clients, distort time
budgets for subsequent years audits, and cloud assessments of audit effectiveness (Akers,
Horngren, and Eaton 1998). Although audit firm policies prohibit auditors from misreporting hours
(Sweeney and Pierce 2006), auditors often have incentives to underreport time including the
potential for more favorable performance evaluations (Anderson-Gough, Grey, and Robson 2001).

We thank J. Gregory Jenkins (editor) and two anonymous reviewers for their helpful comments and suggestions. We
also thank the two public accounting firms that participated in this research.
Editors note: Accepted by J. Gregory Jenkins.
Submitted: January 2016
Accepted: May 2016
Published Online: May 2016

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Indeed, underreporting time is ubiquitous in public accounting firms (Church 2014; Pickerd et al.
2015). Given the negative effects of underreporting on audit firms and the profession, it is
important to consider factors that may influence auditors acceptance of underreporting time.
Prior research reports mixed results on the seemingly logical effects of auditors professional
commitment and experience on ethical evaluations and decision making, including underreporting
time. For example, although Otley and Pierce (1996) find no significant relationship between
auditors professional commitment and underreporting time, Elias (2006) finds that auditing students
with higher professional commitment are more likely to perceive underreporting time as unethical.
Our study aims to specify when and how these variables may impact auditor acceptance of
underreporting time. We propose and test a moderated mediation model whereby auditor
experience predicts professional commitment (mediator) and acceptance of underreporting time
(dependent variable), and also moderates the negative relationship between professional
commitment and underreporting acceptance. Using a sample of 110 auditors at two large national
firms, we find evidence that supports our research model. Specifically, we find that auditor
experience moderates the negative relationship between professional commitment and
acceptance of underreporting time, such that professional commitment is negatively associated
with underreporting acceptancebut only among less experienced auditors. This study
contributes to the literature on professional commitment and dysfunctional audit behavior by
being the first to document this interaction. This is also the first study to find a significant
relationship between auditors professional commitment and acceptance of underreporting time.
The results of our research suggest that audit firms and business colleges should consider
ways in which professional commitment can be enhanced among entry-level auditors. Although
accounting firms are responsible for maintaining an organizational culture that promotes
professional commitment among their auditors, the socialization process necessary to engender
high levels of professional commitment among entry-level auditors must begin years before the
auditor joins the firm. College accounting programs and instructors play an instrumental role in
students socialization into the profession (Elias 2006, 2008). Instructors should emphasize to
students that accounting is a system designed to meet the needs of financial statement users
and encourage them to think of ways in which our system could be improved. Strategies such as
this likely promote a sense of professionalism among students. Students should also be
encouraged or required to complete internships and attend events sponsored by student (and
other) organizations where practicing professionals discuss their organizations. Networking with
practicing professionals and instructors can facilitate students socialization into the auditing
profession leading to higher levels of professional commitment upon entry into the profession.
The remainder of this paper is structured as follows. The next section develops our hypothesis
by discussing relevant research on underreporting time, professional commitment, and auditor
experience. The design of the survey that we conducted is presented in the third section, followed
by a results discussion. Finally, we conclude with a review of the findings and discussion of the
studys contributions, limitations, and practical implications.

BACKGROUND AND HYPOTHESIS DEVELOPMENT


Underreporting Time
Auditors truthfully reporting the actual hours they work on an engagement is critical to public
accounting firms (Rhode 1978; Lightner, Leisenring, and Winters 1983; Akers et al. 1998;
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FIGURE 1
Research Model of Professional Commitment and Underreporting Time

Pickerd et al. 2015), as underreporting time can threaten audit quality (Donnelly, Quirin, and O
Bryan 2003; Stefaniak and Robertson 2010). Akers et al. (1998) contend that underreporting
time can be harmful to firms and auditors for the following reasons: (1) firms use reported time in
preparing the time budget for next years audit thereby forcing future auditors to have their
performance measured against an unrealistic budget or to underreport themselves, (2) firms use
reported time to negotiate audit fees with clients, (3) firms use reported time to assess the
effectiveness of their audit approach on current engagements, (4) firms use reported hours to
make resource allocation decisions, and (5) firms use reported hours to bill clients extra in
certain situations. These factors have the potential to damage not only the audit firm, but the
auditing profession as a whole. For these reasons, audit firm policies specifically prohibit auditors
from misreporting hours (Buchheit, Pasewark, and Strawser 2003; Sweeney and Pierce 2006;
Smith and Hutton 2011).1
Nevertheless, auditors often have incentives to underreport time including the possibility of
more favorable performance reviews (Rhode 1978; Lightner et al. 1983; Anderson-Gough et al.
2001). Indeed, underreporting time is prevalent in public accounting (Otley and Pierce 1996;
Shapeero and Killough 1999; Akers and Eaton 2003; Shapeero, Koh, and Killough 2003). While
audit firms may have reduced emphasis on formal, explicit incentives to underreport time, recent
empirical evidence suggests that auditors still feel at least implicit pressure to underreport
(Agoglia, Hatfield, and Lambert 2015). In a recent interview study with auditors at Big 4 and
regional firms, Church (2014, A31) documents that auditors feel pressure to work without
charging the hours to the budget or eat time. Consequently, it is worthwhile to consider factors
that may impact auditors attitudes toward the underreporting of time. The next discussion
follows Figure 1.
1

We requested official firm policy on underreporting time from both firms participating in this study. We obtained
and reviewed official firm documentation that specifically prohibits underreporting chargeable time.

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Professional Commitment
A factor that may influence auditors acceptance of underreporting time is the level of their
commitment to the auditing profession. Professional commitment has been considered in terms of
dedication to a professional career, identification with the profession, and acceptance of the
professions goals and ethics (J. Sorensen and T. Sorensen 1974). In the accounting literature, it has
been described with reference to a belief in and acceptance of the goals and values of the profession,
a willingness to exert considerable effort on behalf of the profession, and a desire to maintain
membership in the profession (Aranya, Pollock, and Amernic 1981; Aranya and Ferris 1984).
Professional commitment is presumably developed during the socialization process that
accompanies entry into the profession (Aranya, Lachman, and Amernic 1982). Prior research finds
auditor experience level to be positively associated with professional commitment (Aranya and
Ferris 1984; Jeffrey and Weatherholt 1996; Smith and Hall 2008; Suddaby, Gendron, and Lam
2009). The increased socialization experiences that go along with advancing through career
stages in public accounting may contribute to higher levels of professional commitment (Hall,
Smith, and Langfield-Smith 2005). Accordingly, we expect auditor experience to be positively
associated with professional commitment.
Aranya et al. (1981) suggest that higher professional commitment should be reflected in
greater sensitivity to issues concerning professional ethics. Similarly, Lord and DeZoort (2001,
220) reason that high professional commitment should orient auditors toward behavior that is in
the public interest and away from behavior that has the potential to damage the profession.
Alternatively, auditors with lower professional commitment should be more inclined to behave
dysfunctionally. However, empirical studies on the relationship between auditors professional
commitment and ethical evaluations and decisions have yielded mixed results (Elias 2006). To
illustrate, Shaub, Finn, and Munter (1993) find no relationship between professional commitment
and auditors ability to identify ethical issues. However, Jeffrey and Weatherholt (1996) and
Jeffrey, Weatherholt, and Lo (1996) find a positive relationship between professional commitment
and auditors rule observance attitudes. Taylor and Curtis (2010) find a positive relationship
between professional commitment and auditors intention to report a questionable act, but no
relationship between professional commitment and the perseverance of reporting intention.
We are aware of one prior study that has empirically investigated the link between auditors
professional commitment and underreporting time. Contrary to their prediction, Otley and Pierce
(1996) did not find a significant relationship between professional commitment and underreporting of
time. Their sample consisted of audit seniors in Ireland. However, there is some limited empirical
support for the notion that auditors professional commitment will be negatively related to
underreporting time. Using a sample of students from undergraduate auditing classes, Elias (2006)
finds that students with higher professional commitment are more likely to perceive underreporting of
time as an unethical behavior. Since professional commitment should result in greater sensitivity to
issues concerning professional ethics (Aranya et al. 1981; Lord and DeZoort 2001), auditors with high
professional commitment may be less accepting of underreporting time. Consequently, we expect
professional commitment to be negatively associated with acceptance of underreporting time.
Auditor Experience
Mixed findings exist on the relationship between auditor experience and ethical decision
making (Sweeney, Arnold, and Pierce 2010, 536). Some empirical research on underreporting of
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time uses pre-manager level auditors, as auditors at the staff and senior levels have been found to
engage in higher levels of underreporting behavior (Otley and Pierce 1996; Pierce and Sweeney
2003; Sweeney and Pierce 2006; Sweeney et al. 2010). Nevertheless, other studies on
underreporting time use samples consisting of auditors at various hierarchical ranks, from the
staff through partner levels (e.g., S. Lightner, Adams, and K. Lightner 1982; Margheim and Pany
1986; Donnelly et al. 2003; Donnelly, Quirin, and OBryan 2011; Paino, Smith, and Ismail 2012;
Agoglia et al. 2015; Barrainkua and Espinosa-Pike 2015). Lightner et al. (1982) surveyed auditors
at the staff through partner levels and did not find a significant relationship between auditor level
and underreporting time. However, Donnelly et al. (2011) find experience level to be negatively
associated with dysfunctional audit behavior (including underreporting time) and Sweeney et al.
(2010) find that auditor experience is negatively related to underreporting time. Accordingly, we
expect experience to be negatively associated with underreporting acceptance.
Prior research suggests that as auditors gain experience over the years they are more likely to
recognize the adverse consequences of dysfunctional audit behavior (Alderman and Deitrick 1982;
Kelley and Seiler 1982; Cook and Kelley 1988; Raghunathan 1991; Shapeero et al. 2003; Donnelly
et al. 2011). Lower-level auditors are usually exposed to a limited number of audit areas such as
cash and accounts payable. They are likely concerned more with completing their assigned audit
sections and getting them through the review process within the allotted time budget and
concerned less with the overall audit process. In contrast, partners and managers must adopt a
more holistic view of the audit process. They are typically involved in all phases of the audit from
planning to reporting, and are ultimately responsible for budgeting, resource allocation, audit
execution, billing, and client retention. Accordingly, more experienced auditors better appreciate
the harmful effects of underreporting time relative to less experienced auditors, regardless of their
level of commitment to the profession. Therefore, auditor experience likely buffers the impact of
professional commitment on acceptance of underreporting time. In other words, we expect to find a
significant relationship between professional commitment and underreporting acceptancebut
only among less experienced auditors. This leads to our hypothesis:
H1: The interaction effect between auditor experience and professional commitment will predict
acceptance of underreporting time, such that increased experience will weaken the negative
association between professional commitment and acceptance of underreporting time.

METHOD
Sample
Auditors in the American Midwest practice offices of two large national public accounting firms
participated in this research.2 Recruitment emails that included a link to an Internet-based survey
site hosting the survey were sent by audit partners at our request in the summer of 2014.3 The
2
3

The participating firms are among the ten largest in the U.S. (SourceMedia 2014) but are not Big 4 firms.
The recruitment email read as follows: We are assisting with academic research being conducted
independently by [author], an accounting professor at [university]. [Author] is a former audit manager and is
studying the relationships auditors have with various work-related entities. To assist [him/her] with this
research, we are asking that you please complete a short Internet-based survey. Participation is voluntary and
completely anonymous. You may quit the survey at any time and your individual survey responses will not be
shared with the firm as they are for academic research purposes only.

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anonymity of the respondents was protected with the intent of making them less likely to respond in
a socially desirable manner (P. Podsakoff, MacKenzie, Lee, and N. Podsakoff 2003).4 Two
hundred sixty-three auditors received the email and 110 auditors completed the survey, resulting in
a response rate of 41.8 percent.5 The sample is comprised of 40 staff auditors, 27 seniors, 19
managers, 10 senior managers, and 14 partners.
Variable Measurement
Scales used for the variables are presented in Appendix A. We use the four-item commitment
scale developed by Klein, Cooper, Molloy, and Swanson (2014) to measure professional
commitment.6 An example item is, How dedicated are you to the profession? (1 not at all, 7
completely). We use four items taken from Donnelly et al.s (2003) dysfunctional audit behavior
scale to measure acceptance of underreporting time. An example item is, I am more accepting of
auditors underreporting their time if it improves their performance evaluation (1 strongly
disagree, 7 strongly agree). Consistent with Donnelly et al. (2003, 2011) and Paino et al. (2012),
respondents were asked to indicate their acceptance of, rather than actual engagement in,
underreporting time. This approach elicits greater honesty in participants responses and reduces
concerns of social desirability (Randall and Fernandes 1992; Jones, Massey, and Thorne 2003).
Auditor experience is measured in years as an auditor.

RESULTS
Initial Analyses
Table 1 reports descriptive statistics, reliabilities, and correlations for the independent and
dependent variables. The reported scale reliabilities (Cronbachs alpha) indicate high internal
4

The predictor and criterion variables were temporally and proximally separated in our instrument to reduce the
perceived relevance of the previously recalled information in short-term memory, thereby mitigating biases by
making prior responses less salient, available, or relevant, and diminishing the participants ability and
motivation to use prior responses to answer subsequent questions (Podsakoff et al. 2003, 888). The predictor
variables were assessed early in our instrument. After answering demographic questions and questions not
relevant to the purpose of the present research, the criterion variable was measured. This temporal and
proximal separation reduces priming effect concerns that earlier responses to professional commitment
questions influenced participants later responses to questions on underreporting time.
Second-request emails were sent by the firms after approximately one week. We assessed whether
nonrespondents could have produced any significant biases using t-tests comparing early with late respondents
on the variables. The reasoning behind this test is that late respondents may share characteristics with
nonrespondents. These comparisons revealed no significant differences, mitigating concerns associated with
nonresponse bias (Armstrong and Overton 1977). The response rate is similar to those reported in prior
accounting survey studies (e.g., Raghunathan 1991; Herrbach 2001; Herda and Lavelle 2012, 2013).
Klein, Molloy, and Brinsfield (2012) reconceptualized the construct of commitment and outlined several
advantages of their reconceptualization such as improved construct differentiation and greater applicability
across the full array of workplace targets. Consistent with Klein et al.s (2012) conceptualization, Klein et al.
(2014) developed a commitment measure that demonstrates less overlap with other measures, such as job
satisfaction and identification, than prior scales. They empirically validated this alternative commitment
measure using five samples yielding 2,487 participants. Their analyses included comparisons of the new
measure to prior traditional commitment measures. Their measure was most notably correlated with the
affective commitment scale from the three-component model (r 0.69; p , 0.01).

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TABLE 1
a

Descriptive Statistics, Reliabilities, and Correlations (Pearson) among Variables


(n 110)
Quartiles
Variable

Mean Median SD Min. Max. 25% 50% 75%

1. Professional Commitment
4.97
2. Auditor Experience
7.17
3. Acceptance of Underreporting 1.94
Time

5.00
3.50
1.50

1.31 1.00 7.00 4.00 5.00 6.00 (0.95)


8.44 1.00 38.00 1.19 3.50 10.00 0.35**

1.16 1.00 5.75 1.00 1.50 2.50 0.25* 0.35** (0.94)

*, ** Significant at the p , 0.05 and p , 0.01 levels, respectively, (two-tailed).


a
Scale reliabilities (Cronbachs a) appear in parentheses on the diagonal where applicable. Auditor Experience is presented in
years.

consistency (Gliner and Morgan 2000). As expected, professional commitment is negatively


correlated with acceptance of underreporting time. Also in line with expectations, auditor
experience is positively correlated with professional commitment and negatively correlated with
acceptance of underreporting time.7
For additional descriptive information on auditor experience level and acceptance of
underreporting time, we separated staff and seniors (Staff Group) from managers, senior
managers, and partners (Management Group). Table 2 reports descriptive statistics for
acceptance of underreporting of time by auditor group. Means for both groups are relatively low,
suggesting that participating auditors are generally unaccepting of underreporting time. However,
a t-test reveals that the Staff Group mean is significantly higher than the Management Group mean
(p , 0.001), indicating that less experienced auditors are more accepting of underreporting time
than more experienced auditors.
Panel A of Table 3 reports the regression analysis for tests of the main effects of professional
commitment and auditor experience on underreporting acceptance. The coefficient for
professional commitment (PC) (0.132; p 0.06) provides some evidence that professional
commitment is negatively related to acceptance of underreporting time, and the coefficient for
auditor experience (EXP) (0.041; p , 0.001) provides evidence that experience is negatively
associated with underreporting acceptance.
Hypothesis Testing
For hypothesis testing, we use the PROCESS macro for SPSS (Hayes 2013). Conditional
direct effects are evaluated using Model 1 of the PROCESS macro (Hayes 2013) with 10,000
bootstrap samples. H1 posits that the interaction effect between auditor experience and
professional commitment will predict acceptance of underreporting time, such that increased
experience will weaken the negative association between professional commitment and
acceptance of underreporting time. The coefficient for the interaction term in Panel B of Table 3
(0.023; p , 0.01) supports H1. The main effect of professional commitment in Panel B (0.010; p
7

Variance inflation factors (VIFs) were calculated to assess multicollinearity of the variables. Results indicated
no concerns about multicollinearity as VIFs were all below 2.

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TABLE 2
Acceptance of Underreporting Time by Auditor Group
(n 110)
Quartiles
Auditor Group

Mean

Median

SD

Min.

Max.

25%

50%

75%

Staff Group
Management Group

67
43

2.24
1.48

2.00
1.00

1.27
0.76

1.00
1.00

5.75
4.50

1.00
1.00

2.00
1.00

3.25
2.00

110

1.94

1.50

1.16

1.00

5.75

1.00

1.50

2.50

Total

TABLE 3
Regression Analyses
(n 110)a
Panel A: Test for Main Effects
ACCEPT URT b0 b1 PC b2 EXP e0

Variable

Expect

B Coefcient

t-statistic

p-value

Constant
PC
EXP

?



2.894
0.132
0.041

7.015
1.556
3.111

0.000
0.062
0.001

Panel B: Test for Conditional Direct Effects


ACCEPT URT b0 b1 PC b2 EXP b3 PC 3 EXP e0
Variable
Constant
PC
EXP
PC 3 EXP
a

Expect

B Coefcient

t-statistic

p-value

?



1.856
0.010
0.064
0.023

18.840
1.346
4.747
2.866

0.000
0.091
0.000
0.003

Model (1) is significant at 0.001 and has an R2 of 0.14, and Model (2) is significant at 0.001 and has an R2 of 0.17. The p-values
reported are one-tailed for directional tests.

Variable Definitions:
ACCEPT_URT acceptance of underreporting time;
PC professional commitment; and
EXP experience in years as an auditor.

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FIGURE 2
Visualization of Interaction Effect

0.09) has weakened, indicating that the interaction term has moderated the relationship between
professional commitment and acceptance of underreporting time.
Figure 2 provides a visualization of the conditional direct effects.8 As Figure 2 depicts, highexperience auditors have similar levels of acceptance of underreporting time regardless of their
professional commitment levels. This is also the case for average experience auditors. However,
low-experience auditors with high professional commitment are significantly less accepting of
underreporting time than low-experience auditors with low professional commitment.
Our research model (Figure 1) represents a moderated mediation model (cf. Hayes 2015,
5). We use Model 74 of the PROCESS macro (Hayes 2013) with 10,000 bootstrap samples to
test for a mediated relationship along with moderation of the second mediated pathway by the
predictor (i.e., to test for conditional indirect effects). Auditor experience is the predictor
variable, professional commitment is the mediator, and underreporting acceptance is the
dependent variable. Experience is also a moderator between professional commitment and
underreporting acceptance. The analysis provides 95 percent confidence interval (CI) values,
8

Model 1 of the PROCESS macro provides the information necessary to visualize the moderator effects. When
depicting the interaction, the low values of the variables are calculated as one SD below the mean, and the high
values are calculated as one SD above the mean. The auditor experience and professional commitment
variables were mean centered prior to the analysis.

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which indicate that an effect is significant at the 0.05 level if its CI values do not include zero.
The results of the analysis reveal that the conditional indirect effect of experience on
underreporting acceptance through professional commitment is significant among lowexperience auditors (B 0.014; CI [0.026, 0.003]), but not significant for averageexperience auditors (B 0.005; CI [0.014, 0.002]) or high-experience auditors (B 0.005; CI
[0.004, 0.014]). This analysis supports our research model.

DISCUSSION
Prior research reports mixed results on the seemingly logical effects of auditors professional
commitment and experience level on ethical evaluations and decision making. The tenuous
relationship between professional commitment and ethical decision making reported in prior
research could cause some to question the significance of commitment to ones profession in
influencing important attitudes and behavior. In an attempt to better specify when and how
professional commitment may impact ethical evaluations, we propose and test a moderated
mediation model whereby experience predicts professional commitment and acceptance of
underreporting time, and also moderates the negative relationship between professional
commitment and underreporting acceptance.
Using a sample of 110 practicing auditors at two large national firms, we find evidence that
supports our research model. Specifically, we find that auditor experience moderates the
negative relationship between professional commitment and acceptance of underreporting
time, such that professional commitment is associated with underreporting acceptancebut
only among less experienced auditors. This study adds to the literature on professional
commitment and dysfunctional audit behavior by being the first to document this interaction. It
is also the first study to find a significant relationship between auditors professional
commitment and acceptance of underreporting time. Our study clarifies that professional
commitment is indeed an important construct in influencing attitudes among less experienced
auditors.
Limitations and Future Research
Our study has limitations associated with survey-based research including the potential for
nonresponse and social desirability biases. It is based on the premise that auditors acceptance of
underreporting time serves as an indicator of their actual engagement in underreporting, which
may not necessarily be the case. However, this approach is designed to mitigate social desirability
bias and is consistent with the literature (Donnelly et al. 2003). Moreover, the theory of planned
behavior (Ajzen 1988, 1991) argues that ones attitude toward a behavior contributes to the
formation of a behavioral intention, which in turn leads to the actual behavior. Nevertheless, this
remains a limitation of our study. The use of a cross-sectional design inhibits us from drawing
strong causal inferences.
Future research on underreporting could advance the literature by overcoming some of these
limitations. An experimental approach where professional commitment is manipulated and
underreporting is measured by asking participants to report the time they spend on a task (with an
incentive to underreport) could help eliminate or reduce concerns of social desirability and
nonresponse, assess actual behavior rather than attitude toward the behavior, and improve the
ability to draw causal inferences.
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Implications
Our study has practical implications for audit firms and business colleges. Audit firms should
effectually train staff to understand the adverse consequences of underreporting time. Such
training is consistent with the quality control standards of leadership establishing the appropriate
tone at the top. In light of our finding that professional commitment among relatively inexperienced
auditors is associated with less acceptance of underreporting time, we now consider ways in which
professional commitment can be enhanced among entry-level auditors. Our focus on entry-level
auditors is fitting because we find that the impact of professional commitment on underreporting
acceptance is only significant among this group of less experienced auditors.
Continuing education, professional accounting qualifications, organizational culture, and
professional membership requirements and services are likely to affect the development of
professional commitment among auditors (Smith and Hall 2008). Accounting firms are responsible
for maintaining a culture within their firm that promotes professional commitment among auditors.
Professional commitment is presumably developed during the socialization process that
accompanies entry into the profession (Aranya et al. 1982). Firms can help foster professional
commitment among entry-level auditors during their internships by communicating the importance
of reporting time correctly. Firms should also encourage entry-level auditors to take notice of the
positive aspects of their job and consider how they fit into their long-term plans, as this can
enhance their level of job commitment (Church 2014). More experienced auditors should take the
time to get to know new hires and fully explain their role in the audit as this can facilitate their
assimilation and socialization into the profession (Church 2014). Audit firms should increase
awareness among more experienced auditors on the importance of their roles in entry-level
auditors successful socialization into the profession, emphasizing the significance of personal
interactions (Church 2014). These interactions may be both informal and part of the audit firms
formal mentoring programs.
However, successfully developing high levels of professional commitment among entry-level
auditors prior to their serving on audit engagements (often only two weeks after joining the firm)
may be an unrealistically tall order for audit firms. The indoctrination of professional commitment
must be a collaborative effort between practice and academia. Business colleges should engage
with the practice community in an effort to heighten professional commitment among accounting
students. We now consider how college accounting programs can assist in the development of
professional commitment among entry-level auditors while they are still students.
College accounting programs and instructors play an influential role in students socialization
into the profession (Elias 2006, 2008). Many accounting programs encourage or require students
to complete an internship as part of their education. Internships with audit firms immerse students
in the auditing profession prior to their graduation, stimulating commitment to the profession while
they are still in school. Instructors should encourage or require students to attend events
sponsored by accounting student clubs and other organizations where professionals from both
public accounting and industry discuss their firms. Student participation in professional
development activities both within and outside the university, such as audit competitions,
conferences, and state CPA society events, are also worthwhile. Networking with practicing
professionals and instructors will likely facilitate accounting students socialization into the auditing
profession and lead to higher levels of professional commitment.
College accounting programs may consider integrating professionalism throughout the
accounting curriculum, especially emphasizing the expectations of the profession in a capstone or
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ethics course for upper-level students. Instructors should encourage students to begin to think like
accounting professionals instead of bookkeepers early in the program, such as in intermediate
accounting courses. For example, it is important to emphasize to students why we account for
events and transactions the way we do, instead of simply how to account for things. Tactics such
as this can prompt students to view accounting as a system designed to meet the needs of
financial statement users and encourage them to think of ways in which our system could be
improved. This is thinking like a professional.

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APPENDIX A
Scale Items
Professional Commitment
Please answer the following questions as they relate to the auditing profession (seven-point
scale [not at all to completely]).
1. How committed are you to the auditing profession?
2. To what extent do you care about the profession?
3. How dedicated are you to the profession?
4. To what extent have you chosen to be committed to the profession?

Acceptance of Underreporting Time


Please indicate the extent to which you agree or disagree with the following statements. I am
more accepting of auditors underreporting their time if (seven-point scale [strongly disagree to
strongly agree]):
1. It improves their chances for promotion and advancement.
2. It improves their performance evaluations.
3. It is suggested by their supervisor.
4. Others underreport their time and it is necessary to compete with them.

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Volume 10, Number 2, 2016