Title: The importance of emotional intelligence traits for auditors

Authors: Edmund J. Boyle; Henry R. Schwarzbach; Elizabeth A. Cooper

Addresses: Accounting Area, University of Rhode Island, 320 Ballentine Hall, 7 Lippitt Road, Kingston, RI 02881, USA ' Accounting Area, University of Rhode Island, 338 Ballentine Hall, 7 Lippitt Road, Kingston, RI 02881, USA ' Management Area, University of Rhode Island, 317 Ballentine Hall, 7 Lippitt Road, Kingston, RI 02881, USA

Abstract: The purpose of this paper is to explore the importance of individual emotional intelligence (EI) traits for auditors in Big 4 and mid-sized public accounting firms. A total of 112 auditors were surveyed from all of the Big 4 and ten mid-sized firms, with respondents ranging from partner to first year staff accountants. Each participant rated and ranked the 15 EI traits identified in the TEIQue model for their importance to auditors. Stress management, adaptability, self-motivation, self-esteem and emotional regulation were rated as the most important traits. Trait happiness, impulsiveness, trait optimism, emotional expression and emotional perception were rated as less important, but still somewhat important. Assertiveness was considered to be more important to audit management as compared to supervisor/staff levels. Public accounting firms have already accepted the importance of EI in the audit process, yet prior accounting research has not explored which particular EI traits are most important. Understanding the relative importance of the various EI traits can lead to better screening of new hires and more focused EI training. This paper finds that all EI traits have some relevance for auditors across firm size and management/staff levels, however certain traits are considered much more important than others. This is an original finding.

Keywords: auditors; public accounting; emotional intelligence traits; auditing; firm size; stress management; adaptability; self-motivation; self-esteem; emotional regulation; happiness; impulsiveness; optimism; emotional expression; emotional perception; assertiveness; audit management.

DOI: 10.1504/IJAAPE.2016.075621

International Journal of Accounting, Auditing and Performance Evaluation, 2016 Vol.12 No.2, pp.151 - 166

Received: 01 Oct 2014
Accepted: 18 May 2015

Published online: 15 Mar 2016 *

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