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In this study we investigate data collected in an experiential survey from partners at one of the Norwegian Big 4 audit firms concerning 79 disputed accounting issues resolved by auditor–client negotiations. The study is designed to complement prior experimental findings on the auditors' use of negotiation strategies using a different research method (survey‐based retrospective recall). We first investigate which negotiation strategies and tactics audit partners use. We then test three hypotheses (one new and two others that extend prior findings) and find (i) the more precise the relevant accounting standard, (ii) the more general audit experience or task‐specific negotiation experience the auditor has, and (iii) the less positive the auditor–client relationship is that the more auditors agree that contending tactics were used in their own negotiation strategies. Finally, we test the relative importance of different context variables to the auditor's use of the contending strategy and the negotiated accounting outcome.
5 | DISCUSSION AND CONCLUSION
5.1 | Discussion, implications, and conclusions
We measure audit partners' use of different negotiation strategies in a sample of 79 negotiations. Apart from the high score that we measure on the compromising tactic “tried to find some middle ground” (S5), our findings replicate the findings in Gibbins et al. (2010) on auditors' use of the different strategies. Consequently, we add external validity to these prior findings as auditors' use of different negotiation strategies and tactics seem similar in the Canadian and the Norwegian settings, and the main findings do not seem to vary depending upon research approach. Nevertheless, our deviating finding related to the Norwegian auditors' use of one of the compromising tactics is an interesting finding. An explanation for the use of this compromising tactic in our sample can be that there are differences in how negotiations are conducted at small and large clients. Another explanation can be that use of negotiation tactics differs between public and nonpublic clients. Gibbins et al. (2010) describe an average‐sized public company in their experimental study. As shown in Table 3, we include companies with differing sizes and different ownership structures in our sample. If auditors use the compromising tactic mainly when they audit smaller clients or when they audit nonpublic companies then this may explain our high score on statement S5. To test for these explanations, we look at the correlation between the S5 tactic variable and the size of client variable. No significant relationship between these two variables is found. However, we find a negative correlation between the ownership structure of the firm and the score on statement S5 (p < .01) with a mean score of agreement of use of S5 for the nonpublic companies of 3.0 and a mean score of 5.0 for the public companies. More research on negotiations in nonpublic companies consequently should be encouraged to help us understand more of how such negotiations may differ from auditor–client negotiations in public companies. Another alternative explanation is that we have been able to capture the effect that auditors do not enter a negotiation with an intention to compromise but occasionally a compromise is still the outcome of some negotiations. More research should be encouraged to enable us to understand more in general about auditors' use of different negotiation strategies/tactics.