Professional skepticism is a complex and ambiguous construct. Prior research has primarily focused on examining antecedents that affect professional skepticism. Yet, little is known about auditors’ perceptions and experiences of exercising professional skepticism in everyday audit practice. Through analyzing 78 stories collected from interviewing 35 auditors, our research finds that exercising professional skepticism constitutes a sensemaking process that involves noticing discrepant cues, creating interpretations, and arguing with clients to give sense. Within this process, professional skepticism is constructed by auditors’ microlevel actions and interactions in their collective efforts to seek and interpret meanings of discrepant cues. Prior studies highlight the cognitive and psychological nature of professional skepticism at an individual level. Our study provides an incremental understanding of how professional skepticism is enacted and collectively constructed by auditors in practice and shows that the meanings and practices of professional skepticism are fluid and emergent.

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