An International Comparison of Social Interaction Attributes of Internal Auditors: An Analysis Using the Firo-B

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ABSTRACT

This study examines the social interaction attributes of international and U.S. internal auditing personnel. The study found that internal auditors from the U.S. have significantly different social interaction attributes than their Asian counterparts. Understanding differences between social interaction attributes is significant because such information may shed light on the type of individuals who are most likely to succeed in different environments. The study used Thompson and Schutz's (2000) FIRO-B instrument to obtain social interaction attributes from U.S. and Asian internal auditors. The tasks undertaken in the internal audit function require a set of social skills which may vary across work environments and economies. These findings have implications for firm hiring and assignment practices of individuals from different cultures to appropriate functions within the corporation, consideration of the role of employee participation in teams, and educators who advise students pursing post-education employment positions consistent with their social skill preferences.

KEYWORDS: FIRO-B, Social Interaction; Culture; Inclusion; Affection; Control; Warmth

INTRODUCTION

The role of the internal auditor has been enhanced in the light of the plethora of financial statement fraud. Publicly-traded companies are now mandated to improve internal business processes and financial reporting. In light of well-publicized scandals such as Adelphia, HealthSouth, ENRON, and WorldCom, regulators, investors, and the general public have questioned the effectiveness of the audit function in serving as a "watchdog" by analyzing, testing, and reporting management and corporate activities. As a result of these investor concerns and media scrutiny, the U.S. Congress, the accounting profession, and the New York Stock Exchange have taken actions to increase the responsibility and role of the internal audit function.

In accordance with the Sarbanes-Oxley (SOX) Act of 2002, internal auditors have revised many processes and procedures to provide additional support to management and the board of directors* audit committee. Specifically, Auditing Standard No. 5 (PCAOB, 2007) charges internal auditors with (1) meaningful participation in preliminary audit activities, (2) responsibility for evaluation of results, and (3) communication with the board of director's audit committee. According to a PricewaterhouseCoopers (2007) study, "technology, enterprise risk management, antifraud measures, and globalization [are] predicted to boost internal audit responsibilities'* (page 23). Although the internal auditor's expanded responsibilities may be in alignment with the technical accounting skill set expected of accounting graduates, corporations and the internal audit profession also may be well served by assessing the social interaction attributes required for overall effectiveness in the profession.

Internal auditing standards have been promulgated worldwide in an effort to standardize internal audit practices globally. The Internal Audit Association's Standards for Professional Practice provides a vehicle for maintaining consistency across a wide array of legal and economic situations. Research, however, suggests that differing cultures have an effect on the development of auditing standards specific to each individual country (Abdolmohammadi & Burnaby, 2006). The extant literature has documented that there is significant explanatory power of national cultural differences on the development of control systems, the creation and implementation of audit standards, behavior, motivation, and job performance (Wood, 1996; Siegel, Orner & Karim, 1997 Chow, Deng & Ho, 2000; Patel & Psaros 2000; Awasthi, Chow & Wu, 200 1 ; Salter & Sharp, 200 1 Chow, Harrison, McKinnon & Wu, 2002; Stevenson, 2002; Ding, Jeanjean & Stolowy, 2005 Abdolmohammadi & Burnaby, 2006).

Differentiating among individuals who possess the attributes necessary for effectiveness in the internal audit profession is made even more complex when considering the effect of cultural differences. …