Defense Date


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy



First Advisor

Carolyn Norman


This study examines the effects of reputation threats and anonymous whistle-blowing channels on Chief Audit Executives’ (CAEs) decisions to investigate whistle-blowing allegations. Participants were 94 CAEs and Deputy CAEs from publicly traded companies in the eastern half of the United States. Participants received whistle-blowing reports from either an anonymous or a non-anonymous source. In the high reputation threat condition the whistle-blowing report alleged that the wrongdoing was perpetrated by the exploitation of substantial weaknesses in internal controls that had been previously evaluated by external auditors and the internal audit function. The report in the lower threat condition alleged that the wrongdoing was accomplished by the circumvention of internal controls. Findings show that CAEs found anonymous whistle-blowing reports to be significantly less credible than non-anonymous reports. Although CAEs assessed lower credibility ratings for the reports alleging wrongdoing by the exploitation of substantial weaknesses in internal controls, they perceived greater personal and departmental responsibility in this condition. CAEs did not, however, perceive a significant reputation threat in either the Exploitation or Circumvention condition. Regardless of report source credibility, perceived reputation threat, or felt responsibility, CAEs’ resource allocation decisions consistently demonstrated a determination to thoroughly investigate the allegations of wrongdoing and uncover the truth.


© The Author

Is Part Of

VCU University Archives

Is Part Of

VCU Theses and Dissertations

Date of Submission

October 2008

Included in

Accounting Commons