Identifying the Factors Affecting Professional Turnover Intention among the Auditors

Document Type : Original Article


Department of Accounting, Faculty of Management and Accounting, Shahid Beheshti University, Tehran, Iran


Professional turnover is a primary concern for the audit profession, as reported in many recent professional reports. Also, based on the official reports by Iranian authorities in 2019, the average retention period for Iranian auditors was 571 days which is too low compared to global statistics. Therefore, this study aims to identify the factors affecting professional turnover intention. In line with this goal, this research has been done using a qualitative meta-synthesis approach. The present study's data collection tools and information are past documents in this field, including 70 articles. The method of data analysis is based on open coding. The results indicate that the factors affecting professional turnover intention can be classified into seven general categories: individual factors, occupational factors, occupational and organizational attitudes, intra-organizational links, organizational climate, characteristics of audit firms and characteristics of the profession. In the end, based on the research findings, possible suggestions are given.


Main Subjects

  1. Akrout, O. and Ayadi, S. D. (2021). Intention to leave public accounting profession in Tunisia: a qualitative study. Journal of Accounting in Emerging Economies.
  2. Almer, E. D. and Kaplan, S. E. (2002). The effects of flexible work arrangements on stressors, burnout, and behavioural job outcomes in public accounting. Behavioral Research in Accounting, 14(1), pp. 1-34.‏
  3. Almer, E. D., Lightbody, M., Single, L. E. and Vigilante, B. (2011). New leadership tracks in accounting firms: An alternative to the partnership. Current Issues in Auditing, 5(1), pp. A39-A53.‏
  4. Andiola, L. M., Downey, D. H., Spilker, B. C. and Noga, T. J. (2018). An examination of the interactive effect of feedback source and sign in the offshoring environment: A social identity perspective. Behavioral Research in Accounting, 30(2), pp. 1-21.‏
  5. Aryee, S., Wyatt, T. and Min, M. K. (1991). Antecedents of organizational commitment and turnover intentions among professional accountants in different employment settings in Singapore. The Journal of Social Psychology, 131(4), pp.545-556.
  6. Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA) (2018), “Generation Next: managing talent in large accountancy firms”, available at:
  7. Autrey, R. L., Bauer, T. D., Jackson, K. E. and Klevsky, E. (2019). Deploying “connectors”: A control to manage employee turnover intentions?. Accounting, Organizations and Society, 79(2), 101059.‏
  8. Bamber, E. M. and Iyer, V. M. (2002). Big 5 auditors' professional and organizational identification: Consistency or conflict?. Auditing: A Journal of Practice & Theory, 21(2), pp. 21-38.‏
  9. Bani Mahd, B. & Nejati, A. (2016). Relationship between organizational culture and auditors' work commitment. Financial Accounting and Auditing, 8 (30), pp. 119-137. (In Persian).
  10. Barker, P., Monks, K. and Buckley, F. (1999). The role of mentoring in the career progression of chartered accountants. The British Accounting Review, 31(3), pp. 297-312.
  11. Bernardi, R. A. (1998). The implications of lifestyle preference on a public accounting career: an exploratory study. Critical Perspectives on Accounting, 9(3), pp. 335-351.‏
  12. Bernardi, R. A. and Hooks, K. L. (2001). The relationships among lifestyle preference, attrition, and career orientation: A three-year longitudinal study. Advances in accounting behavioral research. 4(9), pp. 207-232.
  13. Bullen, M. L. and Flamholtz, E. G. (1985). A theoretical and empirical investigation of job satisfaction and intended turnover in the large CPA firm. Accounting, Organizations and Society, 10(3), pp. 287-302.‏
  14. Cannon, N. H. and Herda, D. N. (2016). Auditors' organizational commitment, burnout, and turnover intention: A replication. Behavioral Research in Accounting, 28(2), pp. 69-74.‏
  15. Chan, C. C., Monroe, G. S., Ng, J. and Tan, R. C. W. (2008). Effects of employee support on junior accountants' job attitudes and intention to quit. Australian Accounting Review, 18(2), pp. 149-162.‏
  16. Chang, W.J.A., Wang, Y.S., and Huang, T.C. (2013). Work Design-Related Antecedents of Turnover Intention: A Multilevel Approach. Human Resource Management, 52(1), pp. 1–26.
  17. Chi, W., Hughen, L., Lin, C. J. and Lisic, L. L. (2013). Determinants of audit staff turnover: Evidence from Taiwan. International Journal of Auditing, 17(1), pp. 100-112.‏
  18. Chong, V. K. and Monroe, G. S. (2015). The impact of the antecedents and consequences of job burnout on junior accountants' turnover intentions: a structural equation modelling approach. Accounting & Finance, 55(1), pp. 105-132.‏
  19. Chow, C. W., Harrison, G. L., McKinnon, J. L. and Wu, A. (2002). The organizational culture of public accounting firms: evidence from Taiwanese local and US affiliated firms. Accounting, Organizations and Society, 27(4-5), pp. 347-360.
  20. Church, P. H. (2014). Assimilation of new hires in public accounting. Current Issues in Auditing, 8(2), A25-A34.‏
  21. Ciftcioglu, A., Arsoy, A. P. and Sipahi, B. (2011). Investigating accountants’ occupational commitment and occupational turnover intention: evidence from Turkish accountants. International Journal of Accounting and Finance, 3(2), pp. 165-176.
  22. Collins, K. M. and Killough, L. N. (1992). An empirical examination of stress in public accounting. Accounting, Organizations and Society, 17(6), pp. 535-547.
  23. Dalton, D. R., Hill, J. W. and Ramsay, R. J. (1997). The threat of litigation and voluntary partner/manager turnover in big six firms. Journal of Accounting and Public Policy, 16(4), pp. 379-413.‏
  24. Dalton, D. W., Cohen, J. R., Harp, N. L. and McMillan, J. J. (2014). Antecedents and consequences of perceived gender discrimination in the audit profession. Auditing: A Journal of Practice & Theory, 33(3), pp. 1-32.‏
  25. Dalton, D. W., Davis, A. B. and Viator, R. E. (2015). The joint effect of unfavorable supervisory feedback environments and external mentoring on job attitudes and job outcomes in the public accounting profession. Behavioral Research in Accounting, 27(2), pp. 53-76.‏
  26. Dianati Deylami, Z. (2019). Qualitative and Quantitative research methods in Accounting, Edalat-e-Novin. (In Persian).
  27. Dillard, J. F., & Ferris, K. R. (1979). Sources of professional staff turnover in public accounting firms: Some further evidence. Accounting, Organizations and Society, 4(3), pp. 179-186.‏
  28. Dole, C. and Schroeder, R. G. (2001). The impact of various factors on the personality, job satisfaction and turnover intentions of professional accountants. Managerial auditing journal, 16(4), pp. 234-245.
  29. Donnelly, D. P., Quirin, J. J. and O'Bryan, D. (2003). Auditor acceptance of dysfunctional audit behavior: An explanatory model using auditors' personal characteristics. Behavioral research in accounting, 15(1), pp. 87-110.‏
  30. Durocher, S., Bujaki, M. and Brouard, F. (2016). Attracting millennials: Legitimacy management and bottom-up socialization processes within accounting firms. Critical perspectives on Accounting, 39(1), pp. 1-24.‏
  31. Dwyer, P. D., Welker, R. B. and Friedberg, A. H. (2000). A research note concerning the dimensionality of the professional commitment scale. Behavioral Research in Accounting, 12, pp. 279-296.
  32. El‐Rajabi, M. T. (2007). Organizational‐professional conflict and cultural differences among auditors in emerging markets: The case of Jordan and Kuwait. Managerial auditing journal, 22(5), pp. 485-502.
  33. Firfiray, S. and Mayo, M. (2017). The lure of work‐life benefits: Perceived person‐organization fit as a mechanism explaining job seeker attraction to organizations. Human Resource Management, 56(4), pp. 629-649.‏
  34. Fogarty, T. J. (1994). Public accounting work experience: the influence of demographic and organizational attributes. Managerial Auditing Journal, 9(7), pp. 12-20.
  35. Fogarty, T. J. (1996). Gender differences in the perception of the work environment within large international accounting firms. Managerial Auditing Journal, 11(2), pp. 10-19.‏
  36. Fogarty, T. J. and Uliss, B. (2000). Auditor work and its outcomes: An application of the job characteristics model to large public accounting firms. In Advances in Accounting Behavioral Research. Emerald Group Publishing Limited, 3(3), pp. 37-68.
  37. Fogarty, T. J., Reinstein, A., R. A. and Sinason, D. H. (2017). Why mentoring does not always reduce turnover: The intervening roles of value congruence, organizational knowledge and supervisory satisfaction. Advances in Accounting, 38(5), pp. 63-74. ‏
  38. Fogarty, T. J., Singh, J., Rhoads, G. K. and Moore, R. K. (2000). Antecedents and consequences of burnout in accounting: Beyond the role stress model. Behavioral Research in Accounting, 12, pp. 31-68.‏
  39. Gammie, E. and Whiting, R. (2013). Women accountants: Is the grass greener outside the profession?. The British Accounting Review, 45(2), pp. 83-98.
  40. Gertsson, N., Sylvander, J., Broberg, P. and Friberg, J. (2017). Exploring audit assistants’ decision to leave the audit profession. Managerial Auditing Journal, 32(9), pp. 879-898.
  41. Gholipour, A. (2013) Organizational Behavior Management. SAMT, (In Persian).
  42. Gim, G. C. and Ramayah, T. (2020). Predicting turnover intention among auditors: is WIPL a mediator?. The Service Industries Journal, 40(9-10), pp. 726-752.‏
  43. Glover, H. D., Mynatt, P. G. and Schroeder, R. G. (2000). The personality, job satisfaction and turnover intentions of African-American male and female accountants: An examination of the human capital and structural/class theories. Critical Perspectives on Accounting, 11(2), pp. 173-192.‏
  44. Greenhaus, J. H., Collins, K. M., Singh, R. and Parasuraman, S. (1997). Work and family influences on departure from public accounting. Journal of Vocational Behavior, 50(2), pp. 249–270.
  45. Greenhaus, J. H., Parasuraman, S. and Collins, K. M. (2001). Career involvement and family involvement as moderators of relationships between work–family conflict and withdrawal from a profession. Journal of occupational health psychology, 6(2), pp. 91-100.
  46. Hall, M. and Smith, D. (2009). Mentoring and turnover intentions in public accounting firms: A research note. Accounting, Organizations and Society, 34(6-7), pp. 695-704.‏
  47. Hart, M., Kremin, J. and Pasewark, W. R. (2017). Growing up: How audit internships affect students' commitment and long-term intentions to work in public accounting. Issues in accounting education, 32(2), pp. 47-63.‏
  48. Hasin, H. H. and Omar, N. H. (2007). An Empirical Study on Job Satisfaction, Job‐Related Stress and Intention to Leave Among Audit Staff in Public Accounting Firms in Melaka. Journal of Financial Reporting and Accounting., 5(1), pp. 21-39.
  49. Herbohn, K. (2004). Informal mentoring relationships and the career processes of public accountants. The British Accounting Review, 36(4), 369-393.‏
  50. Herda, D. N. (2012). Auditors' relationship with their accounting firm and its effect on burnout, turnover intention, and post-employment citizenship. Current Issues in Auditing, 6(2), pp. 13-17.
  51. Herda, D. N. and Lavelle, J. J. (2012). The auditor-audit firm relationship and its effect on burnout and turnover intention. Accounting Horizons, 26(4), pp. 707-723.‏
  52. Hiltebeitel, K. M. and Leauby, B. A. (2001). Migratory patterns of entry-level accountants. CPA Journal, 71(4), pp. 54-56.
  53. Hom, P. W. and Kinicki, A. J. (2001). Toward a greater understanding of how dissatisfaction drives employee turnover. Academy of Management Journal, 44(5), pp. 975–987.
  54. Izadinia, N. and Masoumi Khanghah, Gh. (2012). Evaluating the efficiency of the accounting department of national and free universities of Isfahan province, 10th national accounting conference of Iran, Tehran, Available at:
  55. Jensen, L. A. and Allen, M. N. (1996). Meta-synthesis of qualitative findings. Qualitative health research, 6(4), pp. 553-560.‏
  56. Jones, A., Guthrie, C. P. and Iyer, V. M. (2012). Role stress and job outcomes in public accounting: Have the gender experiences converged?. In Advances in Accounting Behavioral Research. Emerald Group Publishing Limited, 15(10), pp. 53-84.
  57. Kalbers, L. P. and Cenker, W. J. (2007). Organizational commitment and auditors in public accounting. Managerial Auditing Journal., 22(4), pp. 354-375.
  58. Kerr, V. O. (2005). Influence of perceived organizational support, organizational commitment, and professional commitment on turnover intentions of healthcare professionals in Jamaica. Nova Southeastern University.
  59. Khalife Soltani, A. and Barari, S. (2016). Antecedents and Consequences of Auditor’s Role Stress. Quarterly Financial Accounting Journal, 7 (28), pp. 32-55. (In Persian).
  60. Knechel, W. R., Mao, J., Qi, B. AND Zhuang, Z. (2019). Is There a Brain Drain in Auditing? The Determinants and Consequences of Auditors' Leaving Public Accounting. Contemporary Accounting Research.
  61. Kohlmeyer, J. M., Parker, R. J. and Sincich, T. (2017). Career-related benefits and turnover intentions in accounting firms: The roles of career growth opportunities, trust in superiors, and organizational commitment. In Advances in accounting behavioral research. Emerald Publishing Limited., 20(2), pp. 1-21.
  62. Lachman, R. and Aranya, N. (1986). Evaluation of alternative models of commitments and job attitudes of professionals. Journal of Organizational Behavior, 7(3), pp. 227-243.
  63. Law, D. W. (2005). Interactive organizational commitment and hardiness in public accountants' turnover. Managerial Auditing Journal., 20(4), pp. 383-393.
  64. Law, P. (2010). Examination of the actual turnover decisions of female auditors in public accounting: Evidence from Hong Kong. Managerial Auditing Journal., 25(5), pp. 484-502.
  65. Malekzade, , Rahimnia, F. and Goli, S. (2016), Investigating the relationship between psychological empowerment and employees' job attitudes, Second International Conference on Accounting, Management and Business innovation, Iran, Rasht. (In Persian). Available at:
  66. Martinow, K., Moroney, R. A. and Harding, N. (2020). Auditor Commitment and Turnover Intentions Following Negative Inspection Findings: The Effects of Regulator Enforcement Style and Firm Response. Auditing: A Journal of Practice & Theory, 39(4), pp. 143-165.‏
  67. Maupin, R. J., & Lehman, C. R. (1994). Talking heads: Stereotypes, status, sox-roles and satisfaction of female and male auditors. Accounting, Organizations and Society, 19(4-5), pp. 427-437.‏
  68. Mashayekhi, B. and Mashayekh, S. (2008). Development of accounting in Iran. The International Journal of Accounting, 43(1), pp. 66-86.‏
  69. Mehrani, K., Nargesian, A. and Ganji, K. (2016). Antecedents and Consequences of Perceived Gender Discrimination in the Audit Profession. Accounting and Auditing Review, 23(1), pp. 97-116. [In Persian].
  70. Meixner, W. F. and Bline, D. M. (1989). Professional and job-related attitudes and the behaviours they influence among governmental accountants. Accounting, Auditing & Accountability Journal, 2(1).
  71. MohammadRezaei, F. and Mohd-Saleh, N. (2017). Auditor switching and audit fee discounting: the Iranian experience. Asian Review of Accounting, 25(3), pp. 335-360.
  72. Moradi, M., Lari Dash Bayaz, M., Khaksari, N. and Marandi, Z. (2017). The relationship between ethics, job satisfaction and organizational commitment with auditors’ turnover. First auditing and financial national congress, Mashhad. (In Persian).
  73. Moritz, B. (2014), “The US Chairman of PWC on keeping millennials engaged”, Harvard Business Review, 92(11), pp. 15.
  74. Mousavi, S.S. M. and Yazdani, M. (2017). The role of the auditor voice and team-oriented Leadership’ supervisor on the effectiveness of the audit performance. Quarterly Financial Accounting, 9 (34), pp. 102-123 (In Persian).
  75. Mynatt, P. G., Omundson, J. S., Schroeder, R. G. and Stevens, M. B. (1997). The impact of Anglo and Hispanic ethnicity, gender, position, personality and job satisfaction on turnover intentions: a path analytic investigation. Critical perspectives on accounting, 8(6), pp. 657-683.‏
  76. Nouri, H. ad Parker, R. J. (2013). Career growth opportunities and employee turnover intentions in public accounting firms. The British accounting review, 45(2), pp. 138-148.‏
  77. Nouri, H. and Parker, R. J. (2020). Turnover in public accounting firms: a literature review. Managerial Auditing Journal, 35(2), pp. 294–321.
  78. Nye, E., Melendez‐Torres, G. J. and Bonell, C. (2016). Origins, methods and advances in qualitative meta‐synthesis. Review of Education, 4(1), pp. 57-79.‏
  79. Padgett, M., Gjerde, K. P., Hughes, S. B. and Born, C. J. (2005). The relationship between pre-employment expectations, experiences, and length of stay in public accounting. Journal of Leadership & Organizational Studies, 12(1), pp. 82-102.‏
  80. Park, T. Y. and Shaw, J. D. (2013). Turnover rates and organizational performance: A meta-analysis. Journal of applied psychology, 98(2), pp. 268-309.
  81. Parker, R. J. and Kohlmeyer III, J. M. (2005). Organizational justice and turnover in public accounting firms: A research note. Accounting, Organizations and Society, 30(4), pp. 357-369.‏
  82. Parker, R. J., Nouri, H. and Hayes, A. F. (2011). Distributive justice, promotion instrumentality, and turnover intentions in public accounting firms. Behavioral Research in Accounting, 23(2), pp. 169-186.‏
  83. Pasewark, W. R. and Viator, R. E. (2006). Sources of work‐family conflict in the accounting profession. Behavioral research in accounting, 18(1), pp. 147-165.‏
  84. Pintabone, M. and Caruso, B. (2018), Auditing from a distance, Accounting Today, Vol. 32 No. 4, 1-3
  85. Porter, L. W., Steers, R. M., Mowday, R. T. and Boulian, P. V. (1974). Organizational commitment, job satisfaction, and turnover among psychiatric technicians. Journal of applied psychology, 59(5), pp. 603-609.
  86. Reed, S. A., Kratchman, S. H. and Strawser, R. H. (1994). Job satisfaction, organizational commitment, and turnover intentions of United States accountants: The impact of locus of control and gender. Accounting, Auditing & Accountability Journal. 7(1), pp. 31-58,
  87. Rezazadeh, J., Rajabzadeh, A. and Davani, P. I. (2008). An Investigation into the Supervisory Factors Contributing to the Auditors’ Job Satisfaction and Their Intentions to Remain in the Firm: An Iranian Case. Accounting and Auditing Review, 15 (51), pp. 19-36 (In Persian).
  88. Saks, A. M. (1996). The relationship between the amount and helpfulness of entry training and work outcomes. Human Relations, 49(4), pp. 429-451.
  89. Sandelowski, M. and Barroso, J. (2007). Handbook for Synthesizing Qualitative Research. In Research in Nursing & Health (Issue 1). Springer.
  90. Scandura, T. A. and Viator, R. E. (1994). Mentoring in public accounting firms: An analysis of mentor-protégé relationships, mentorship functions, and protégé turnover intentions. Accounting, Organizations and Society, 19(8), pp. 717-734.‏
  91. Schell, B. H. and DeLuca, V. M. (1991). Task-achievement, obsessive-compulsive, type A traits, and job satisfaction of professionals in public practice accounting. Psychological Reports, 69(2), pp. 611-630.
  92. Shaemi, A., Shabani Naftchali, J. and Khazaei Pool, J. (2014). Analysis of the impact of perceived organizational climate on organizational citizenship behavior. Journal of Holistic Nursing and Midwifery, 24(3), pp. 27-37. (In Persian).
  93. Smith, D. and Hall, M. (2008). An empirical examination of a three‐component model of professional commitment among public accountants. Behavioral Research in Accounting, 20(1), pp. 75-92.
  94. Smith, K. J., Derrick, P. L. and Koval, M. R. (2010). Stress and its antecedents and consequences in accounting settings: An empirically derived theoretical model. In Advances in Accounting Behavioral Research. Emerald Group Publishing Limited, 13, pp. 113-142.
  95. Smith, K. J., Emerson, D. J. and Boster, C. R. (2018). An examination of reduced audit quality practices within the beyond the role stress model. Managerial Auditing Journal. 33(8-9), pp. 736-759.
  96. Smith, K. J., Emerson, D. J. and Everly, G. S. (2017). Stress arousal and burnout as mediators of role stress in public accounting. In Advances in Accounting Behavioral Research. Emerald Publishing Limited, 20, pp. 79-116. ‏
  97. Stallworth, L. (2004). Antecedents and consequences of organizational commitment to accounting organizations. Managerial Auditing Journal. 19(7), pp. 945-955.
  98. Sweeney, B. and Boyle, B. (2005). Supervisory actions, job satisfaction and turnover intentions of Irish. Irish accounting review, 12(2)., pp. 47-73.
  99. Taheri, Z., Moradi, M. and Jabbari Noghabi, M. (2017). Investigate the relationship between perceptions of professional growth opportunities and auditors' willingness to move. Journal of Audit Science, 16 (65), pp. 199-213. (In Persian).

100.­ Tehrani, R., Ghazi, T.M. and Khalife, S. S.(2005). Organizational Professional Conflict in           Accounting, 12 (41), pp. 3-27. (In Persian)

101.­ Viator, R. E. (2001). An examination of African Americans' access to public accounting  mentors: Perceived barriers and intentions to leave. Accounting, Organizations and Society,        26(6), pp. 541-561.‏

102.­ Viator, R. E. and Scandura, T. A. (1991). A Study of Mentor-Protege Relationships in    Large Public Accounting Firms. Accounting Horizons, 5(3), pp. 20–30.

103.­ Wright, T. A. (1993). Correctional employee turnover: A longitudinal study. Journal of   Criminal Justice, 21(2), pp. 131–142.

104.­ Zimmer, L. (2006). Qualitative meta‐synthesis: a question of dialoguing with       texts.Journal of advanced nursing, 53(3), pp. 311-318.‏   2648.2006.03721.x.