Auditors' Conflict Management Styles: An Exploratory Study
This study explores the conflict management styles used by auditors when resolving disputes with clients concerning financial statement issues. Rahim's (1983a, 1990) ROCI-II conflict management instrument was used to establish both the styles generally used and also those used in a scenario concerning possible inventory obsolescence. Size of the client and the strength of its corporate governance mechanisms were manipulated in the scenario. It was found that auditors indicate that they primarily use the integrating style to resolve disputes. The compromising and dominating styles are used to a lesser extent while the obliging and avoiding styles are rarely used. Partners are more likely than managers to use more assertive styles of conflict management. The size of the client and the strength of corporate governance mechanisms in place have a significant but relatively minor impact on the choice of styles. The study also identifies the parties whom the auditor would expect to help resolve the dispute. It was found that, when resolving a dispute with the client's chief financial officer, the audit committee is perceived to give the most assistance, followed by the chief executive of icer.