The objective of this study is to assess the extent to which auditor‐provided systems reliability assurance affects potential service recipients' (1) likelihood of recommending that their company enter into a contractual agreement with the service provider, and (2) comfort level with the reliability of the service provider's information systems. We conducted a full‐factorial between‐subjects experiment where the following four auditor assurances were either absent or present: availability, security, integrity, and maintainability. A total of 481 middle‐ and upper‐level managers from a broad spectrum of functional areas participated in the study. Research findings indicate significant main effects with respect to all four assurances, as well as firm size, for the “likelihood” variable. Significant main effects were also obtained for the “comfort” variable with respect to availability, security, and maintainability (marginal significance), but integrity and firm size were nonsignificant. The amount of variance explained by the “availability” and “security” assurances (combined) was remarkably large (56 percent for “likelihood” and 43 percent for “comfort”) relative to the combined variance explained by the other two assurances (1 percent for “likelihood” and 1 percent for “comfort”). We also found evidence that respondents overweighed assurance reports on individual principles, as compared to a four‐principle reliability report. Additionally, we found no significant difference in dependent variable responses when all four assurances were provided and the auditor's report focused on either the (1) effectiveness of controls or (2) reliability of the system. Research evidence offers key strategic guidance to the AICPA, CICA, and CPA/CA firms engaged in systems reliability assurance services.

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