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Seminar – Communication specificity and auditor reliance on human and non-human specialists

Universiteit van Amsterdam

PCAOB inspection reports document persistent deficiencies in auditors’ use of specialists when evaluating complex estimates. Accordingly, the PCAOB recently amended standards intended to enhance coordination and communication between auditors and specialists. We examine how the specificity of specialist communication, as well as specialist-type (i.e., human versus system), impact auditors’ reliance on specialist-provided evidence. Findings indicate that, when specialist explanations are less-specific, auditors are more hesitant to rely on system-provided evidence compared to human-provided evidence, consistent with algorithm aversion. However, when provided with more-specific explanations, auditors increase their reliance on system-provided evidence, mitigating this aversion. Thus, we provide evidence that, when specialist explanations lack specificity, auditors’ judgments are more likely to be influenced by heuristic cues (e.g., human versus non- human source). Overall, we identify explanation specificity as an important and persuasive characteristic of specialist communication that can limit the degree to which auditor judgments are influenced by nondiagnostic information.

REC M4.02


  • Ben Commerford (University of Kentucky)


Plantage Muidergracht 12,
1018 TV Amsterdam