A Longitudinal Field Investigation of Auditor Risk Assessments and Sample Size Decisions

Randal J. Elder, Robert D. Allen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

38 Scopus citations


This study examines changes in auditor risk assessments and sample size decisions based on information gathered from three large accounting firms for audits during 1994 and 1999. The five-year interval between data collection periods allows us to measure changes in risk assessments and sample sizes between the two periods. Auditors relied on controls and assessed inherent risk below the maximum on most audits, and were more likely to do so in the later period, consistent with a trend of lower risk assessment levels. Average sample sizes declined between 1994 and 1999 for the firms that had larger sample sizes in the earlier period. Overall, we find a significant relationship between inherent risk assessments and sample sizes, but this relationship is stronger in the earlier period and is not significant for all firms, especially in the later period. We find limited evidence of a relationship between control risk and sample sizes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)983-1002
Number of pages20
JournalAccounting Review
Issue number4
StatePublished - Oct 2003


  • Control risk
  • Inherent risk
  • Risk assessments
  • Samples sizes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Accounting
  • Finance
  • Economics and Econometrics


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