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Anna Nöteberg

The Medium Matters: the impact of electronic communication media and evidence strength on belief revision during auditor-client inquiry


Face-to-face meetings between auditors and their clients are increasingly difficult to arrange, due to business globalization and the growing need for rapid audit decision-making. Relying on electronic communication media for auditor-client inquiry, such as e-mail or video conferencing, is a simple solution to this problem. However, when the client has persuasive intentions, the use of such media introduces possible biases in the communication process. This dissertation posits that the use of electronic communication media distorts the ways in which auditors form and update their beliefs, following client inquiry. Electronic media possess a variety of attributes. Based on theoretical considerations, the media attributes of interest in this dissertation are the extent to which the medium can communicate verbal and non-verbal signals (cue multiplicity) and the medium’s ability to archive messages (reprocessability). Their effects on auditors’ belief revision are predicted in the light of client-provided evidence. The results of an experimental study among practicing graduate accounting students demonstrate that the type of media used for client-provided information disclosure indeed matters for auditors’ belief revision and judgment formation.