Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)

Degree Granting Department

School of Accountancy

Major Professor

Uday Murthy, Ph.D.

Co-Major Professor

Dahlia Robinson, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Jacqueline Reck, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Getachew Dagne, Ph.D.


Internal Control Weaknesses, Material Weakness, Control Deficiency, Presentation Format, Disaggregation, SOX 404, Sarbanes Oxley


This study investigates whether the current lack of structure of internal control weakness disclosures (a narrative about the reliability of the financial reporting system) leads nonprofessional investors to make differential investment decisions. Using the non-accelerated filer (smaller public company) setting, where nonprofessional investors are likely to consume unaudited internal control reports in their investing judgments and decisions, I examine two facets of internal control disclosure formats: presentation salience and disaggregation of material weaknesses. A 2 x 2 between-participants behavioral experiment was conducted with internal control presentation salience (bulleted vs. in-text) and disaggregation level (a single material weakness vs. a combination of multiple control deficiencies that is a material weakness). I find that nonprofessional investors reward companies that disclose internal control weaknesses more saliently. The results also indicate that disaggregation interacts with salience in that it increases the effect of salience on investing judgments such that salient (stealth) disclosure of a combination of control deficiencies is viewed more positively (negatively) than salient (stealth) disclosure of a material weakness. These findings are contrary to Rennekamp (2012) who finds that processing fluency in bad news leads to more negative investment judgements. Additional analyses indicated that the results related to management trust and credibility are consistent with prior literature. The findings contribute to academia and practice by shedding light on the importance that needs to be placed on the presentation format of internal control disclosures.

Included in

Accounting Commons