auditing, bias, financial incentives, motivated reasoning, oversight, personal relationship


Evidence of auditors’ failure to provide an independent opinion has reopened debates on measures to ensure auditor independence. We examine the effectiveness of oversight on two prominent determinants of auditor’s biased opinion – financial incentives and a personal relationship with the client. We conduct a between-subject experiment involving an accounting choice task. We find a significant effect of a personal relationship on the auditor’s choice after controlling for financial incentives. Oversight has a significant negative effect on auditor’s choice arising from financial incentives, whereas a personal relationship significantly reduces the effectiveness of oversight. Our results show that, in addition to oversight, other solutions that break up personal ties are needed to ensure auditor independence.