The effect of auditor IT expertise on internal controls

Jacob Z. Haislip, Gary F. Peters, Vernon J. Richardson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Scopus citations


Material weaknesses in internal controls related to information technology (IT) represent unique threats to organizations. Utilizing the external auditor as an example of an externally observable governance mechanism, we investigate if firms with revealed IT internal control deficiencies employ a strategy of disassociation with their current auditor. Our tests show that prior evidence of disassociation strategies hold in both IT and non-IT contexts. Of particular focus to our study, we document a positive association between firms that report IT material weaknesses and subsequent auditor dismissals or switching. We next investigate the potential internal control benefits of switching to auditors with greater expertise in environments that emphasize the importance of IT. We argue that greater audit firm IT expertise promotes improved internal controls for their clients, especially those controls that are dependent on IT. We find that clients that switch to auditors with greater IT expertise, relative to their former auditor, have a greater likelihood of material weakness remediation within one year of reporting control weaknesses. Complementing these findings, we find that audit IT expertise is negatively associated with both non-IT and IT material weaknesses in an ex ante reporting setting. Prior literature takes a longstanding interest in both the incentive for developing auditor expertise and the effects of that expertise. We contribute to this literature stream by providing additional evidence related to a specific type of expertise.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-15
Number of pages15
JournalInternational Journal of Accounting Information Systems
StatePublished - Apr 1 2016


  • Audit quality
  • Information technology
  • Internal control material weakness


Dive into the research topics of 'The effect of auditor IT expertise on internal controls'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this