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  • 1.
    Svanberg, Jan
    Department of Business, Economics and Law, Centre for Research on Economic Relations, Mid Sweden University, Sundsvall, Sweden.
    Application of moral norms in accounting as communication: How self-efficacy may impact on morality2013In: ARSP. Archiv für Rechts- und Socialphilosophie, ISSN 0001-2343, E-ISSN 2363-5614, Vol. 99, no 1, p. 95-114Article in journal (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    Accounting ethics is a growing field which is devoted to how ethical norms are perceived, understood, and how they affect behavior of professional accountants and auditors. The fi eld concerns what legal sociology could define as the effectiveness of a set of norms. The present study adopts a Luhmann-inspired theoretical framework and questions three assumptions that are common among the main thrust of empirical research on accounting ethics. This study proposes that the effectiveness of ethical norms in accounting as the outcome of self-assessments, client-assessments and peer-assessments in which the ethical norms operate as a communication system. The perceived utility of the system of ethical norms appears to the individual as dependent on how capable the individual believes him/herself to be at communicating with the environment through ethical terminology. This system-theoretical definition of the effectiveness of ethical norms in accounting allows new research questions to be asked regarding how ethical norms become a viable alternative for solving accounting problems in practice.

  • 2.
    Svanberg, Jan
    et al.
    Mid Sweden University, Department of Business, Economics and Law, Centre for Research on Economic Relations, Sundsvall, Sweden.
    Öhman, Peter
    Mid Sweden University, Department of Business, Economics and Law, Centre for Research on Economic Relations, Sundsvall, Sweden.
    Auditors’ identification with their clients: Effects on audit quality2015In: The British Accounting Review, ISSN 0890-8389, E-ISSN 1095-8347, Vol. 47, no 4, p. 395-408Article in journal (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    Although client familiarity is desirable from the auditor's perspective, identifying with clients threatens auditor objectivity. This study examines the extent to which non-Big 4 auditors identify with clients, the effect of auditor–client identification on auditors' client acquiescence to client-preferred treatment, and, finally, whether the harmful effects of auditor–client identification can be extended to a broader set of reduced audit quality acts. The responses of 141 practicing auditors at non-Big 4 firms in Sweden support our theoretical predictions. We find that auditors tend to identify with their clients, and that an auditor who identifies relatively more with a client is more likely to acquiesce to client-preferred treatment and to commit reduced audit quality acts. While previous research has considered only Big 4 firms, the current findings suggest that the problems with auditor identification with clients also hold for non-Big 4 auditors.

  • 3.
    Svanberg, Jan
    et al.
    Department of Business, Economics and Law, Centre for Research on Economic Relations, Mid Sweden University, Sundsvall, Sweden.
    Öhman, Peter
    Department of Business, Economics and Law, Centre for Research on Economic Relations, Mid Sweden University, Sundsvall, Sweden.
    Auditors' time pressure: Does ethical culture support audit quality?2013In: Managerial Auditing Journal, ISSN 0268-6902, E-ISSN 1758-7735, Vol. 28, no 7, p. 572-591Article in journal (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    Purpose: The purpose of this paper is to address the impact of ethical culture on audit quality under conditions of time budget pressure. The study also tests the relationship between ethical culture and time budget pressure. Design/methodology/approach: The study is based on a field survey of financial auditors employed by audit firms operating in Sweden. Findings: The study finds relationships between three ethical culture factors and reduced audit quality acts. The ethical environment and the use of penalties to enforce ethical norms are negatively related to reduced audit quality acts, whereas the demand for obedience to authorities is positively related to reduced audit quality acts. Underreporting of time is not related to ethical culture, but is positively related to time budget pressure. Finally, the study finds a relationship between two ethical culture factors and time budget pressure, indicating a possible causal relationship, but ethical culture does not mediate an indirect effect of time budget pressure on reduced audit quality acts. Originality/value: This is the first study to report the effect of ethical culture on dysfunctional auditor behavior using actual self-reported frequencies of reduced audit quality acts and underreporting of time as data. © Emerald Group Publishing Limited.

  • 4.
    Svanberg, Jan
    et al.
    Mittuniversitetet.
    Öhman, Peter
    Mittuniversitetet.
    Does Charismatic Client Leadership Constrain Auditor Objectivity?2016In: Behavioral Research in Accounting, ISSN 1050-4753, E-ISSN 1558-8009, Vol. 29, no 1, p. 103-118Article in journal (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    This study examines whether charismatic client leadership constrains the objectivity of auditor judgment. Previous accounting research has found that auditors who identify with their clients suffer from objectivity impairment because they agree with their clients more than do other auditors. Related to this, leadership research claims that followers' identification with a collective makes them susceptible to charismatic leader influence. Based on leadership theory, we anticipate that auditor objectivity may be constrained when leadership is perceived as charismatic, even disregarding the fact that the auditor is not a member of the client's organization. A cross-sectional design was used and responses from Swedish auditors were analyzed statistically. The findings indicate that perceived charismatic leadership is associated with constrained auditor objectivity.

  • 5.
    Svanberg, Jan
    et al.
    Department of Business, Economics and Law, Centre for Research on Economic Relations, Mid Sweden University, Sundsvall, Sweden.
    Öhman, Peter
    Department of Business, Economics and Law, Centre for Research on Economic Relations, Mid Sweden University, Sundsvall, Sweden.
    Does ethical culture in audit firms support auditor objectivity?2016In: Accounting in Europe, ISSN 1744-9480, E-ISSN 1744-9499, Vol. 13, no 1, p. 65-79Article in journal (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    The suggested cause of constrained auditor objectivity has been centred on auditors' financial incentives and long audit tenure. Recent research has challenged those assumptions and questioned the effectiveness of auditor rotation to counteract short-tenure threats to auditor objectivity. Audit firms and regulators need to adopt methods for enhancing auditor objectivity that are effective in various auditor–client relationships. This study examines whether audit firm ethical culture is positively related to auditor objectivity. Based on the responses of 281 practising auditors, the findings indicate that auditors are more likely to make objective judgments in ethical cultures characterized by the rewarding of ethical behaviour and punishment of unethical behaviour, prevalence of ethical norms, visible ethical leadership, and low emphasis on obedience to authority. In conclusion, evidence indicates that auditors in audit firms with a strong ethical culture are more likely to maintain auditor objectivity than are auditors in less supportive cultures. This suggests that audit firms should promote a strong ethical culture to reduce the risk of constrained auditor judgment.

  • 6.
    Svanberg, Jan
    et al.
    Department of Business, Economics and Law, Centre for Research on Economic Relations, Mid Sweden University, Sundsvall, Sweden.
    Öhman, Peter
    Department of Business, Economics and Law, Centre for Research on Economic Relations, Mid Sweden University, Sundsvall, Sweden.
    Lost revenues associated with going concern modified opinions in the Swedish audit market2014In: Journal of Applied Accounting Research, ISSN 0967-5426, E-ISSN 1758-8855, Vol. 15, no 2, p. 197-214Article in journal (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    Purpose - The purpose of this paper is to examine the costs to audit firms in terms of lost revenues of losing small clients due to auditor switching or client bankruptcy after issuing first-time going concern modified opinions. Design/methodology/approach - A population of small Swedish companies receiving first-time going concern modified opinions in 2009 was examined to determine the effects two years later compared with a matched sample of financially stressed companies that had not received going concern modified opinions. Findings - The results indicate that both auditor switching and client bankruptcy are positively related to receipt of going concern modified opinions. Furthermore, the authors find empirical evidence that auditors issuing first-time going concern modified opinions lose proportionately more fees through auditor switching and client bankruptcy than do auditors not issuing such opinions to financially stressed clients. Finally, the authors found that the going concern modified opinions issued by Big 4 firms are no more harmful to clients than are those issued by other audit firms. Research limitations/implications - The authors recognize a limitation of this study regarding the choice of control companies. Although the authors attempted to find similarly sized and similarly financially stressed companies from the same industries as those companies in the test group, the authors may have missed other variables relevant to auditor switching or client bankruptcy. Practical implications - A practical implication for the audit profession is the increased awareness of the fact that the financial dependence issues reported in this study extend to auditors with small client companies. Originality/value - This is the first study to examine fees lost due to auditor switching and client bankruptcy caused by going concern modified opinions in a population of small companies. It contributes to the mixed evidence presented in previous research as to the extent to which going concern modified audit opinions are self-fulfilling prophecies.

  • 7.
    Svanberg, Jan
    et al.
    Economics and Law, Centre for Research on Economic Relations, Department of Business, Mid Sweden University, Sundsvall, Sweden.
    Öhman, Peter
    Economics and Law, Centre for Research on Economic Relations, Department of Business, Mid Sweden University, Sundsvall, Sweden.
    The effects of time budget pressure, organizational–professional conflict, and organizational commitment on dysfunctional auditor behavior2016In: International Journal of Accounting, Auditing and Performance Evaluation, ISSN 1740-8008, Vol. 12, no 2, p. 131-150Article in journal (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    This study tests several hypotheses regarding the relationships between time budget pressure, organisational-professional conflict, organisational commitment, and various forms of dysfunctional auditor behaviour. Data were collected from a sample of experienced auditors in Sweden, and the response rate was 21.4%. The results indicate that time budget pressure has an impact on under-reporting of time (URT), but not on reduced audit quality (RAQ) acts. Simultaneously, the organisational-professional conflict in accounting firms exerts an important influence on RAQ acts, but has no effect on URT. Contrary to our expectations, organisational commitment has no impact on RAQ acts or URT. The overall results indicate that aligning accounting firms’ ethical cultures with professional values is an effective method to reduce the likelihood that auditors will commit RAQ acts, and that decreased time budget pressure may reduce URT.

  • 8.
    Svanberg, Jan
    et al.
    University of Gävle, Faculty of Education and Business Studies, Department of Business and Economic Studies, Business administration.
    Öhman, Peter
    Mid Sweden University, Department of Business, Economics and Law, Centre for Research on Economic Relations, Sundsvall, Sweden.
    Neidermeyer, Presha E.
    West Virginia University, Department of Accounting, Morgantown, United States.
    Auditor objectivity as a function of auditor negotiation self-efficacy beliefs2019In: Advances in Accounting, ISSN 0882-6110, Vol. 44, p. 121-131Article in journal (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    This study empirically examines whether an auditor's perceived ability to negotiate discretionary accounting issues with clients (auditor negotiation self-efficacy) is related to auditor objectivity, and whether an auditor's negotiation self-efficacy has a greater impact on her objectivity when the auditor's accuracy motive (professional identity) is strong rather than weak. We tested the hypotheses using a cross-sectional survey design and obtained 146 responses from among 800 surveyed experienced Swedish auditors. The findings indicate that auditors with higher negotiation self-efficacy were more likely to make decisions on a material and discretionary accounting issue contrary to their clients’ desires compared to auditors with lower self-efficacy. The relationship between negotiation self-efficacy and auditor objectivity was not moderated by professional-identity strength. These research findings suggest that recruiting and training auditors to increase their negotiation self-efficacy may be an effective method to enhance auditor objectivity without the problems inherent in other methods, such as auditor rotation. Our sample was obtained in Sweden, which allows long auditor tenures. We caution that, although our analysis controlled for auditor tenure, the effect of auditor negotiation self-efficacy may not be generalizable to countries that limit tenure through regulation.

  • 9.
    Svanberg, Jan
    et al.
    University of Gävle, Faculty of Education and Business Studies, Department of Business and Economic Studies, Business administration.
    Öhman, Peter
    Department of Business, Economics and Law, Centre for Research on Economic Relations, Mid Sweden University, Sundsvall, Sweden.
    Neidermeyer, Presha E.
    Department of Accounting, West Virginia University, Morgantown, West Virginia, USA.
    Client-identified auditor’s initial negotiation tactics: a social-identity perspective2018In: Managerial Auditing Journal, ISSN 0268-6902, E-ISSN 1758-7735, Vol. 33, no 6-7, p. 633-654Article in journal (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    Purpose: The purpose of this paper is to investigate the connection between the type of negotiation tactics auditors use when they ask their clients to make adjustments to their financial reports, focusing on three distributive and two integrative negotiation tactics, and whether the auditors identify with their clients.

    Design/methodology/approach: A survey was used to capture 152 experienced Swedish audit partners’ perspectives on what type of negotiation technique they would use thinking about their largest client in a hypothetical situation.

    Findings: The results show that the more auditors identify with their clients, the more likely they are to adopt two of the distributive negotiation tactics, conceding and compromising.

    Originality/value: Building on the findings in the accounting literature that auditors’ identification with clients constrains their judgments, this study finds that auditors’ identification with clients also has an impact on the auditors’ initial selection of negotiation tactics. 

  • 10.
    Svanberg, Jan
    et al.
    Mittuniversitetet.
    Öhman, Peter
    Mittuniversitetet.
    Neidermeyer, Presha E.
    Department of Accounting, West Virginia University, Morgantown, West Virginia, USA.
    The relationship between transformational client leadership and auditor objectivity2017In: Accounting, Auditing & Accountability Journal, ISSN 1368-0668, E-ISSN 1758-4205, Vol. 30, no 5, p. 1142-1159Article in journal (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    The purpose of this paper is to investigate whether transformational leadership affects auditor objectivity. Design/methodology/approach The investigation is based on a field survey of 198 practicing auditors employed by audit firms operating in Sweden. Findings This study finds that transformational client leadership negatively affects auditor objectivity and that the effect is only partially mediated by client identification. Given these results, suggesting that auditors are susceptible to influence by their clients? perceived exercise of transformational leadership, leadership theory appears relevant to the discussion of auditor objectivity in the accounting literature. Originality/value Previous accounting research has applied the social identity theory framework and found that client identification impairs auditor objectivity. However, the effect of transformational client leadership on auditor objectivity, which reflects an intense auditor-client relationship, has been neglected before this study.

  • 11.
    Öhman, Peter
    et al.
    Mittuniversitetet, Avdelningen för ekonomivetenskap och juridik.
    Svanberg, Jan
    Mittuniversitetet, Avdelningen för ekonomivetenskap och juridik.
    Påverkar en identifiering med klienterna revisorers oberoende?2015Report (Other academic)
    Abstract [sv]

    Olika hot mot revisorers oberoende har uppmärksammats i tidigare forskning. Ett av dessa hot har väckt CERs och i synnerhet Peter Öhmans och Jan Svanbergs intresse. Det är i vilken grad oberoendet påverkas av om revisorerna identifierar sig med sina klienter. Den genomförda studien visar att de revisorer som identifierar sig relativt mer med sina klienter har större sannolikhet att såväl acceptera klientföretagens redovisning som att begå kvalitetsförsämrande handlingar. Detta verkar inte kunna motverkas av om revisorerna identifierar sig med revisorsprofessionens kärnvärden. Forskningsresultaten har tidigare publicerats i den internationella tidskriftsartikeln “Auditors’ identification with their clients: Effects on audit quality” (Svanberg och Öhman, 2015).

  • 12.
    Öhman, Peter
    et al.
    Mittuniversitetet.
    Svanberg, Jan
    Mittuniversitetet; Högskolan Dalarna.
    Tidspress, etisk kultur och revisionskvalitet2013Report (Other academic)
    Abstract [sv]

    Den tidspress som revisorer kan uppleva har visat sig vara en bidragande orsak till att vissa revisionsuppdrag brister i kvalitet. Denna studie, gjord av Peter Öhman och Jan Svanberg vid CER, visar att revisionsbyråernas etiska kulturer har större betydelse för revisionskvaliteten än vad tidspressen har. Forskningsresultaten har tidigare publicerats i den internationella tidskriftsartikeln “Auditors’ time pressure: Does ethical culture support audit quality?” (Svanberg och Öhman, 2013).

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