Dr. Jeffrey Pittman

Chair in Corporate Governance and Transparency


Besides working on my own research projects, my main focus at this stage is helping others thrive in developing their own research programs. This can include teaching graduate students, guiding newer faculty members, participating in doctoral consortia, serving as a keynote speaker at conferences and crafting papers outlining potential future research directions. I hope that these activities are constructive in helping to develop the next generation of corporate governance researchers.

I also try to maintain an active research program. In 2021, I published four papers in major journals, including The Accounting Review and Contemporary Accounting Research. I have five papers accepted for publication in such top journals as the Journal of Accounting Research, The Accounting Review, Contemporary Accounting Research and Accounting, Organizations and Society. Recent statistics suggest that I have been the most productive accounting researcher worldwide ― in terms of publishing in the top five journals in my field ― in the past three- (2019-2021), six- (2016-2021), and 12-year (2010-2021) periods.

In striving to provide evidence on interesting research questions, I generally try to exploit unique data. For example, in a recent study, my co-authors and I explore whether audit partner performance is sensitive to the extent of their narcissism. Extensive prior archival and experimental evidence in psychology, economics and management suggests that narcissistic individuals tend to be more independent. This maps into audit theory that holds that audit partner quality improves when they exhibit more independence. In fact, auditors who are more independent are known to better resist pressure from clients to waive audit adjustments that would lower their earnings. Similarly, prior evidence implies that more independent audit partners are less concerned about the threat of dismissal in the event that they reach audit decisions that are unfavourable to client management. However, in the other direction, more narcissistic audit partners may discount input from other members of the audit team, potentially undermining audit quality.

Accordingly, the impact of narcissism on partner performance distils to an empirical question that we examine in this study. Relying on partner signature size to measure their narcissism, we find strong evidence supporting that more narcissistic partners conduct high-quality audits. This paper, which was published in The Accounting Review in 2021, is part of a series of research projects on the partner-level determinants of audit quality that I have in the pipeline. Similar to my earlier research, I am optimistic that these papers will lead to insights that help inform public policy debates and motivate future research.

Like many others dealing with disruptions stemming from pandemic, this year I have spent time reflecting on my goals for the next stage of my career. Although I will likely take a different path in the years ahead, I will always be deeply grateful to former deans Dr. Gary Gorman and Dr. Wilfred Zerbe for their resolute support of my research activities.