Purpose: Information system projects often go awry and when they do internal auditors are often in a position to bring the problems to management’s attention. However, managers are not always receptive to risk warnings, even when internal auditors who are role prescribed to carry out this function deliver such warnings. This phenomenon is known as the deaf effect. This paper aims to examine the actions that internal auditors take to resolve the deaf effect and how these actions affect the auditor–manager relationship. Design/methodology/approach: Based on a multiple case study approach, the authors conducted in-depth interviews with auditors and examined ten cases of the deaf effect from the auditor’s perspective. Findings: The findings revealed three categories of actions that auditors took in response to the deaf effect and how these actions immediately affected the auditor–manager relationship. Further, by analyzing the subsequent sequence of actions taken by the auditor in each case, the authors identified three distinct patterns that capture the dynamics of the auditor–manager relationship over time until the deaf effect was, ultimately, resolved. Originality/value: Several practitioner studies have shown that internal auditors and managers struggle to build effective relationships, even under the most favorable circumstances and the authors suggest that deaf effect situations are likely to pose an even greater challenge to the auditor–manager relationship. The study contributes to the discourse on internal audit effectiveness in several ways. First, the authors identified three categories of actions that internal auditors took in response to the deaf effect. The authors found that two of these categories of action are related to the two distinct roles that internal auditors can play (inspector or consultant). Second, the authors examined how these categories of actions played out over time, influencing the auditor–manager relationship dynamics.

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doi.org/10.1108/MAJ-02-2018-1811, hdl.handle.net/1765/120886
Managerial Auditing Journal
Erasmus School of Accounting and Assurance (ESAA)

Nuijten, A., Keil, M. (Mark), Sarens, G. (Gerrit), & van Twist, M. (2019). Partners or opponents: Auditor-manager relationship dynamics following the deaf effect in information system projects. Managerial Auditing Journal, 34(9), 1073–1100. doi:10.1108/MAJ-02-2018-1811