This study examines the effects of the source of whistle-blowing allegations and potential for allegations to trigger concerns about reputation threats on chief audit executives' handling of whistle-blowing allegations. The participants for this study, chief audit executives (CAEs) and deputy CAEs, evaluated whistle-blowing reports related to financial reporting malfeasance that were received from either an anonymous or a non-anonymous source. The whistle-blowing reports alleged that the wrongdoing resulted from either the exploitation of substantial weaknesses in internal controls (suggesting higher responsibility of the CAE and internal audit) or the circumvention of internal controls (suggesting lower responsibility of the CAE or internal audit). Findings indicate that CAEs believe anonymous whistle-blowing reports to be significantly less credible than non-anonymous reports. Although CAEs assessed lower credibility ratings for the reports alleging wrongdoing by the exploitation of substantial weaknesses in internal controls, they allocated more resources to investigating these allegations.

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