A Longitudinal Study of New Staff Auditors' Initial Expectations, Experiences, and Subsequent Job Perceptions



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Book Chapter

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Prior research has found that staff accountants may be disappointed when their initial work expectations do not match their early work experiences and this disappointment can lead to negative job outcomes (AAA, 1993; Dean, Ferris, & Konstans, 1988; Carcello, Copeland, Hermanson, & Turner, 1991; Padget, Paulson, Hughes, Hughes, & Ernst and Young LLP, 2005). This paper reports information obtained from the staff auditors about their initial expectations on a variety of work factors, early work experiences related to those factors, and subsequent perceptions of the factors. Similar to prior research, the results show the new accountants had high initial expectations about the public accounting work environment and that their subsequent job perceptions were lower than their initial expectations. Explanations for the declines were not obvious, as many of the changes in perceptions were not significantly related to relevant work experiences. Given the decrease in job perceptions over time on a variety of factors, the results indicate that a gap exists between the initial work expectations of the new accountants and the work environment that they encounter during their first 18 months of employment. This gap is important because prior research indicates when employees have unmet expectations they have less positive job attitudes and behaviors (Padget et al., 2005; Dean et al., 1988). Further, this gap exists in spite of firms' efforts to increase communication with students via web sites, internships, and visits to college campuses, and efforts to improve the work environment (e.g., flexible work schedules, compressed workweeks, telecommuting, etc.).