Date of this Version


Document Type

Discussion Paper

Publication Details

Jean Bedard and Ted Mock (1990) Expert and Novice Problem Solving Behaviour in Audit Planning: An Experimental Study

The authors gratefully acknowledge the helpful comments of Stan Biggs, Paul Caster, Heidi Chrisman, Ward Edwards, Gary L. Holstrum, Paul R. Watkins and the workshop participants at Laval and Limburg. An earlier version of this paper was presented at the 1989 AAA annual meeting in Honolulu.

School of Business Discussion Paper ; No. 7, Sep. 1990

© Copyright Jean Bedard, Ted Mock and the School of Business, Bond University


This study compares the decision-making processes of 52 expert and novice auditors in an audit planning task. A process tracing method is used to monitor auditors' information search behavior. Three dimensions of information search behavior are examined using a new method of analysis: information search strategy, information acquisition behavior and search duration. In general, experts and novices exhibited different information search behavior. Experts exhibited a more global search pattern guided by an overall planning strategy. They also acquired significantly less information on internal control but attached more importance to these controls, indicating that they might acquire information more efficiently. Finally, experts were more efficient than novices in terms of information search time and required significantly less time to perform the task.