ABSTRACT: Audit standards require auditors to conduct fraud brainstorming sessions on every audit. The Public Company Accounting Oversight Board has raised concerns about auditors’ fraud judgments and the quality of their brainstorming sessions. We develop a measure of brainstorming quality to examine how it affects auditors’ fraud decision-making processes. We test our measure using field survey data of auditors’ actual brainstorming sessions for 179 audit engagements. Respondents report considerable variation in the quality of brainstorming in practice. We find some evidence that high-quality brainstorming improves the relations between fraud risk factors and fraud risk assessments. We also determine that brainstorming quality positively moderates the relations between fraud risk assessments and fraud-related testing. Our results suggest that the benefits of brainstorming do not apply uniformly, because low-quality sessions likely incur the costs of such interactions without receiving the attendant benefits. By documenting best practices from high-quality brainstorming sessions, our findings can inform auditors on how to improve their consideration of fraud.

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