Escalation of Commitment among Internal Auditors

Richard G. Brody, Steven Kaplan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

30 Scopus citations


Standards for the professional practice of internal auditing require objectivity (Institute of Internal Auditors (IIA) 1978). The motivation for the current study is to provide evidence on whether internal auditors' objectivity may be impaired due to the sequential nature of internal audit tasks. Research in psychology demonstrates that personal involvement will be elevated when an individual makes multiple decisions as part of a sequential task and that personal involvement fosters an escalation of commitment to a chosen course of action (Brockner 1992). This paper reports the results of an experiment examining practicing internal auditors' escalation tendencies. In the context of a budgeting decision associated with an acquisition audit, the number of decisions (e.g., one or two) each subject made was used to manipulate the level of responsibility. The results show that internal auditors who had made an initial and then a final decision engaged in escalation behavior such that they tended not to change their initial decision, and that their final decision was different from a group who only made a final decision. An examination of internal auditors' recalls revealed no significant association between level of responsibility and recall of facts. Internal auditors, however, were found to recall negative facts better than positive facts, independent of level of responsibility.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)x1-15
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 1 1996


  • Budgeting
  • Escalation
  • Internal auditors
  • Responsibility

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Accounting
  • Finance
  • Economics and Econometrics


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