Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)

Degree Granting Department


Major Professor

Patrick R. Wheeler, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Lisa Milici Gaynor, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Uday S. Murthy, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Terry Sincich, Ph.D.


Experimental, fraud risk factor, fraudulent financial reporting, fraud triangle, incentive compensation, prospect theory


The ability of auditors to detect fraud, including intentional material misstatements in earnings, remains key to the credibility of audit firms and confidence in capital markets. The PCAOB concludes from its most recent inspections of public company audits that auditors often fail to assess and respond to risks of material misreporting by management. In a behavioral experiment, this study concludes that auditors can increase sensitivity to management motivation to misreport by actively seeking to transform identified risk factors focused on the organization, into factors focused on top managers, and to evaluate whether these manager-focused risk factors represent incentives for personal gain or pressures to avoid a personal loss on the managers. Currently, auditing standards use incentive and pressure as interchangeable constructs, but auditors in this study assess pressure on managers to avoid a loss as a greater risk than an incentive to managers to attain a gain. Results also demonstrate that auditors will be made more sensitive to fraudulent financial reporting risk when focusing on pressure on top managers, than they will be by engaging in a traditional process of assessing total fraud risk based on the three fraud triangle elements. This study is the first to propose a theoretical explanation for why prior studies reflect auditor insensitivity to organizational level fraud risk factors. This study is also the first to enhance knowledge about auditor risk assessment and decision-making through the application of prospect theory and through disaggregation of one of the three elements of the fraud triangle model, by differentiating between incentive and pressure for misreporting earnings.

Included in

Accounting Commons