A Post-Sarbanes-Oxley Implementation Evaluation of Internal Control Effectiveness Judgments

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Virginia Tech


This study explores the relationship between an individual's current professional occupation and the effect of the order of information on their evaluation when making internal control effectiveness judgments. The Sarbanes-Oxley Act (SOX) requires a new mindset for individuals that have responsibility for the internal controls in place at an organization. SOX requires both auditors and management to evaluate the effectiveness of the internal controls over financial reporting. Prior to the implementation of SOX, auditors were required to evaluate internal controls and their effect on the reliability of the financial statements; however, neither group was required to provide an opinion to the public regarding the findings of the evaluation.

This study utilizes a within- and between-subjects research design, using the subjects' occupation (auditor or management) as one independent variable, and manipulating the order in which the cases are received by the subjects for the second independent variable. For each case, the subjects were provided three internal control judgments: effectiveness and efficiency of operations, reliability of financial reporting, and Sarbanes-Oxley required internal control effectiveness judgment. Additionally, subjects indicated their reliance on each of the internal control effectiveness cues included by allocating 100 points among each of the six cues included in the instrument.

Based on the results of the current study, auditors and management did not provide different judgments. Additional analyses were conducted to explore whether experience impacts the self-insight individuals have into their reliance on cues when providing judgments. Findings did not indicate that subjects with greater experience were more likely to have greater insight into their reliance on information.

The findings suggest that neither role nor case ordering affected the subjects' professional judgment. Overall, auditors and management did not provide statistically significant different judgments in relation to Sarbanes-Oxley judgments. The similarity in judgments should provide some reassurance to auditors and investors that given no guidance but the same information for judgments, management and auditors will come to similar conclusions regarding the effectiveness of internal controls over financial reporting.



Internal Controls, Auditors, Management, Sarbanes-Oxley