Title page for ETD etd-03292009-224506

Type of Document Dissertation
Author Long, James Harvey
Author's Email Address longjam@vt.edu
URN etd-03292009-224506
Title Mitigating the Effects of Interruption on Audit Efficiency and Effectiveness
Degree PhD
Department Accounting and Information Systems
Advisory Committee
Advisor Name Title
Jenkins, James Gregory Committee Chair
Brinberg, David L. Committee Member
Fan, Weiguo Patrick Committee Member
Popova, Velina K. Committee Member
Song, Chang Joon Committee Member
  • interruption
  • audit efficiency
  • mitigating interruption effects
  • audit effectiveness
Date of Defense 2009-03-27
Availability restricted
This dissertation examined the effects of interruption on auditor efficiency and effectiveness for one simple and two complex tasks within the audit domain. I evaluated these effects for novice and experienced auditors. In addition, I considered two ways in which the negative effects of interruption might be mitigated: varying an individual’s interruption response strategy (immediate vs. negotiated) and the presence or absence of a memory-aid (notes). I investigated these phenomena using an internet-based experimental instrument. Subjects included both students and practicing auditors.

My findings indicate that interruption hindered performance on certain complex audit tasks, and that it differentially affected auditor performance at two levels of experience. When interrupted, inexperienced auditors completed complex audit tasks less efficiently; experienced auditors completed them less effectively. In addition, experienced auditors who negotiated interruption completed a complex audit task more efficiently and effectively than those that responded to the interruption immediately. Furthermore, note-taking increased experienced auditor task efficiency on a complex audit task requiring judgment. These results suggest that auditors should limit task interruption when they are engaged in complex audit tasks. When task interruption cannot be avoided, auditors should consider negotiating a delay in the onset of an interruption. Finally, auditors who are interrupted while they complete a complex task requiring judgment should consider using notes to mitigate the deleterious effect of interruption on task efficiency.

Participants also completed a post-experimental questionnaire which provided evidence about interruptions in the audit environment. The responses confirmed that auditors are frequently interrupted in practice. In addition, auditors preferred differing interruption response strategies dependent upon both the level of primary task complexity (easy vs. difficult), and the medium through which the interruption occurred (electronic vs. interpersonal). They chose interruption response strategies according to their place in the social hierarchy relative to the interrupter (client/boss vs. subordinate /friends/family).

Finally, I found that interruption influences affect. Auditors reported significantly more positive affect reactions to interruption on easy tasks (e.g., alert, cheerful, friendly, happy and relaxed) and substantially negative affect reactions to interruption on difficult tasks (e.g., angry, hostile, irritated, nervous and tense).

  Filename       Size       Approximate Download Time (Hours:Minutes:Seconds) 
 28.8 Modem   56K Modem   ISDN (64 Kb)   ISDN (128 Kb)   Higher-speed Access 
[VT] CopyrightPermissions.pdf 36.64 Kb 00:00:10 00:00:05 00:00:04 00:00:02 < 00:00:01
[VT] Dissertation-JamesHLong.pdf 2.36 Mb 00:10:55 00:05:37 00:04:55 00:02:27 00:00:12
[VT] IRBAmendmentApproval.pdf 239.56 Kb 00:01:06 00:00:34 00:00:29 00:00:14 00:00:01
[VT] IRBInitialApproval.pdf 243.99 Kb 00:01:07 00:00:34 00:00:30 00:00:15 00:00:01
[VT] indicates that a file or directory is accessible from the Virginia Tech campus network only.

Browse All Available ETDs by ( Author | Department )

dla home
etds imagebase journals news ereserve special collections
virgnia tech home contact dla university libraries

If you have questions or technical problems, please Contact DLA.