The ties that bind: Knowledge-seeking networks and auditor job performance

Monika Causholli, Theresa Floyd, Nicole Thorne Jenkins, Scott M. Soltis

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations

Abstract

The dissemination of knowledge in audit firms is a critical process that has gone relatively unexamined by researchers. Using social network analysis to quantify the knowledge-seeking networks in a Big 4 audit firm in the U.S., we examine the association between the types and patterns of knowledge-seeking ties and individual auditor performance. Our initial finding is that auditor job performance is negatively associated with the number of knowledge-seeking ties. Further, our analyses demonstrate that this negative association is being driven by explicit knowledge-seeking rather than tacit knowledge-seeking activities and is stronger for higher-ranked auditors. Thus, knowledge-seeking by auditors may come at a cost, particularly when that knowledge is codifiable and when the seeking is done by those at higher levels of the firm. In a post-hoc analysis, we find that tacit knowledge-seeking ties to managers can be beneficial for auditor performance, and tacit knowledge-seeking ties to senior managers and partners is sometimes detrimental. In sum, this suggests that who is seeking knowledge and who is being sought for knowledge are both important for performance. Our findings may assist researchers to better understand how auditors leverage their social connections to learn, which in turn may affect audit efficiency and effectiveness. Further, audit firms might benefit from better understanding the consequences of knowledge-seeking from different sources and use this understanding to make decisions that maximize desirable information flows.

Original languageEnglish
Article number101239
JournalAccounting, Organizations and Society
Volume92
DOIs
StatePublished - Jul 2021

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
We thank Hun Tong Tan (editor) and two anonymous reviewers for helpful comments and suggestions. We appreciate comments received from Pietro Bianchi, Lauren Cunningham, Brian Goodson, Miguel Minutti-Meza, Linda Myers, Mark Peecher, Joe Schroeder, Jay Thibodeau, Karen Ton, Scott Vandervelde, Sandra Vera-Muñoz, and workshop participants at the University of Kentucky Department of Management Brown Bag, University of Tennessee, University of North Carolina in Charlotte, University of Miami, Maastricht University, Vrije University, Miami University (Ohio), the 2017 International Conference on Assurance and Corporate Governance at the University of Florida, and the 2017 AAA Audit Mid-Year Meeting. Monika Causholli and Nicole Jenkins would like to express appreciation to Steve Borgatti. Monika Causholli acknowledges research support from the Deloitte Research Fellowship and the Von Allmen School of Accounting and Nicole Jenkins acknowledges research support from the EY Research Fellowship and the Von Allmen Professorship at the University of Kentucky.

Funding Information:
? We thank Hun Tong Tan (editor) and two anonymous reviewers for helpful comments and suggestions. We appreciate comments received from Pietro Bianchi, Lauren Cunningham, Brian Goodson, Miguel Minutti-Meza, Linda Myers, Mark Peecher, Joe Schroeder, Jay Thibodeau, Karen Ton, Scott Vandervelde, Sandra Vera-Mu?oz, and workshop participants at the University of Kentucky Department of Management Brown Bag, University of Tennessee, University of North Carolina in Charlotte, University of Miami, Maastricht University, Vrije University, University of Pisa, Miami University (Ohio), the 2017 International Conference on Assurance and Corporate Governance at the University of Florida, and the 2017 AAA Audit Mid-Year Meeting. Monika Causholli and Nicole Jenkins would like to express appreciation to Steve Borgatti. Monika Causholli acknowledges research support from the Deloitte Research Fellowship and the Von Allmen School of Accounting and Nicole Jenkins acknowledges research support from the EY Research Fellowship and the Von Allmen Professorship at the University of Kentucky and the John A. Griffin Deanship at the University of Virginia.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 Elsevier Ltd

Keywords

  • Auditor performance
  • Knowledge-seeking
  • Social networks

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Accounting
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Organizational Behavior and Human Resource Management
  • Information Systems and Management

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