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Author ORCID Identifier


Campus-Only Access for Five (5) Years

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Degree Program


Year Degree Awarded


Month Degree Awarded


First Advisor

Christopher Agoglia

Subject Categories



When audit issues arise, auditing standards require auditors to inquire with sources knowledgeable about the issue. Often these sources, typically client managers, are involved in decisions associated with the work related to the audit issue. As such, they may feel a sense of “ownership” over the related work. Psychological ownership can cause individuals to behave defensively when they feel their work is threatened. This defensive behavior may pose a challenge for auditors if client managers are less transparent during the audit process. I conduct an experiment to examine the effect of psychological ownership on managers’ interactions with the auditor and their willingness to disclose a potential audit issue. I find that client managers with higher psychological ownership are less likely to disclose the existence of an issue than client managers with lower psychological ownership. Further, I investigate the use of two different topics of small talk prior to the audit inquiry, as audit partners encourage auditors to engage in small talk to build relationships with client managers. I find that professional small talk, which is common among business professionals, magnifies managers’ defensive behavior. On the other hand, social small talk is effective at mitigating the defensive behavior exacerbated by professional small talk, but not the defensiveness caused by psychological ownership. Additionally, I find that both professional and social small talk improves the social bond the client manager perceives with the auditor, compared to no small talk.


Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.