University of Wisconsin-Madison Faculty Recognized by National Accounting Organizations

Wisconsin School of Business accounting professor Emily Griffith and Ph.D. student Patrick Hurley have received the Access to Audit Personnel Program Award. The Center for Audit Quality (CAQ) and the Auditing Section of the American Accounting Association (AAA) sponsor the program. Griffith and Hurley are one of only four research teams in the U.S. to receive this prestigious award.

Griffith and Hurley’s proposal, Ego Depletion and Evidence Integration While Auditing Complex Estimates, focuses on the role of ego depletion on job performance in auditors. Ego depletion is a popular topic in social psychology, which argues that exercising self-control over a long period of time limits a person’s ability to do so in the near future. Griffith and Hurley’s research will examine ego depletion in auditors who work long hours during the busy season, typically from Jan. 1 to April 15.

“Auditors simply have too much work to do during busy season, but the historical make-up of accounting firms doesn’t allow for workload reductions during those times,” says Hurley. “We want to focus on how auditors could structure their work to improve their judgment and performance.”

Griffith and Hurley believe the research topic was the right balance of theory and practical application, examining the academic question of how ego depletion affects the brain, as well as the real solutions companies could use to combat the effects. “This award bolsters our belief that we have an important research topic with the potential to improve audit practice,” Griffith says.

The award gives the team access to auditors from several accounting firms for data collection and academic research. The team also includes UW-Madison alumna and University of Georgia associate professor Jacqueline Hammersley on their proposal.