External auditor independence : selected group perceptions
The professional independence of external auditors is fundamental to the auditing profession. Thus, it is important that auditors are not only independent in fact, but that they are also seen to be independent - i. e. independent in aPRearance. In that light, it is clear that external auditor independence (EAI) is a perceptual issue. Yet there is a marked lack of empirical research done with a view to determine how users of audited accounts perceive EAI, or to contrast such views with comparable ones held by external auditors themselves. Thus, the major objective of the research is to empirically examine how relevant groups see EAI within specified audit situations. The research examines how three groups of users of audited statements (bankers, credit managers and internal auditors - the user groups) and sets of external auditors (who issue audit reports - the issuer groups), see EAI in circumstances described in specific audit situations. This is the primary context of the empirical research. An appropriate questionnaire was developed and used as the research instrument because of its natural accord with the Brunswick Lens Model approach to perceptual examinations. The facts specified in each of the twenty situations were cues upon which judgement of EAI, was made by judges (the questionnaire respondents). Thus, the empirical chapters consider: 1. Areas of concern with EAI 2. Significant perceptual differences: a) between each user group and the issuer group b) within two sub-groups of the issuer group 3. Possible explanations for differences by examining: a) the dimensions underlying group views of EAI b) the importance attached by groups to EAI cues c) the pattern between bio-data and views on EAI main findings indicate, within an EAI context: 1. Significant differences of perception between the issuer group and each of the three user groups. 2. Generally non-significant differences of perception within the external auditor group. 3. Each group having its own unique set of underlying (factor or dimensional) constructs. 4. The cues (facts) contained in audit environments are of consequence in explaining such group differences. 5. Personal group characteristics (attributes) do not appear to be very helpful in explaining group views.