As a response to the increased demand for timely and ongoing assurance over the effectiveness of risk management and control systems, companies are moving toward a more automated control environment through the implementation of continuous audit modules. The purpose of this study is to evaluate external auditors' reliance on internal audit's work when advanced audit techniques are introduced by the internal auditor and the impact this reliance has on budgeted audit hours. Prior literature suggests that internal control deficiencies also have an impact on external auditor reliance and the audit budget. The reliance decision of an external auditor has important economic consequences and implications for efficiency and effectiveness of the overall audit. In recent years, the PCAOB has encouraged greater such reliance to improve audit efficiency. An experiment is conducted with 87 experienced external auditors to investigate the theorized effects. Using a 2 × 2 between-subjects factorial design, the frequency of the internal audit (traditional versus continuous audit) and prior year material weakness (absent versus present) are manipulated. Consistent with predictions, we find that auditors are willing to rely more on internal audit work in a continuous audit environment than in a traditional environment, and this effect is magnified when the prior year audit report on the effectiveness of internal controls indicates that controls are working properly. The presence of a material weakness, however, negatively impacts judgments on the budget for the valuation of a complex account. In addition, both material weakness and continuous audit have an impact on the overall audit budget, which is reduced only when the company has no prior year material weakness and a functioning continuous audit module is put in place. The results show that auditors increase budgeted hours for the engagement at a higher rate when the client uses traditional internal audit procedures.

You do not currently have access to this content.