The Emergence of Responsible Auditors in the Context of Cognitive Dissonance: Applying Grounded Theory to Expectation Convergence

Document Type : Research Paper


PhD, Department of Accounting, Member of the Young and Elite Researchers Club, Faculty of Economics and Management, Tabriz Branch, Islamic Azad University, Tabriz, Iran.



Objective: This research aims to examine the various factors and elements that influence the cognitive dissonance experienced by auditors in their roles and responsibilities, and to propose a model for the development of responsible auditors in Iran.
Methods: This study was conducted using a mixed-method approach for analysis. In the qualitative phase, grounded theory was used, while in the quantitative phase, structural equation modeling (SEM) was applied to assess the validity of the conceptual model. Furthermore, this research was carried out during the years 2021 and 2022. The study's statistical population included expert professors, members of the Iranian Association of Certified Public Accountants, senior managers of the Audit Organization, partners of audit firms, tax auditors, judicial experts, financial analysts, and senior managers of creditor organizations. For this purpose, 35 semi-structured interviews were done with the participants based on a composite purposeful sampling technique.
Results: The results showed that factors affecting the cognitive dissonance of auditors’ responsibilities include irrational expectations and knowledge gap of users (0.394), the unfavorable performance of auditors (0.467), and underlying factors. The latter included a wide range of users (0.270), and a lack of sufficient surveillance over auditors' performance (0.492). Moreover, strategies for convergence between the expectations of auditors and financial reports' users obtained a value of 0.538. In contrast, the value of 0.468 was measured for constant monitoring of professional associations and surveillance institutes over the performance of auditors.
Conclusion: According to the achieved results, enforcement power does not exist to reduce negligence and malpractice of auditors and observe the professional conduct act. Moreover, educational centers and universities do not perform effectively to achieve intellectual and academic progress in audit and accounting, so there is a considerable gap between education and practice in accounting. Continuous surveillance over adherence to professional conduct acts by auditors is the main request of financial statement users. Hence, the standard's tone must be changed to increase social interest, help make decisions, and provide information to anticipate coming events and the standard must be formulated based on the environmental conditions and stakeholders' expectations. The establishment of professional associations overseeing the quality of auditing institutions' performance should involve comprehensive software systems, and evaluations conducted by peers should take into account audit quality indicators when ranking these institutions. The novelty of this current study lies in its unique approach of combining qualitative analysis with empirical testing to identify the factors influencing cognitive dissonance among auditors in their roles and to introduce a model for the development of responsible auditors in Iran. This study provides some strategies to match the expectations of financial statements' users and auditors. It can also help professional associations and audit legislators to create expectations convergence.


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