Skip to Content

Darla Moore School of Business

Ph.D. student seeks to tie in COVID-19 auditing impacts to dissertation

Current Moore School Ph.D. candidate Kristen Steury decided to pursue her doctorate in accounting so she could combine both her passion for mathematics and teaching.

Steury initially majored in elementary education and later math education as an undergraduate at the University of Central Florida. After realizing that she wanted to take a different track in teaching, she decided to major in accounting in hopes of one day becoming a professor.

“Once I realized I could combine my love for teaching with my love for numbers in a capacity that involved higher education, I was set,” Steury said. “My experience in public accounting consisting of two years at KPMG after graduating with my master’s further solidified my desire to lean in to higher education. Specifically, that two years ignited a desire to pursue research related to the inefficiencies of public accounting that resulted from irrationality and errors made by humans, including myself, who didn’t even realize they were operating at a sub-optimal level.”

For Steury, having the ability to research topics that interest her and the kind and humble nature of the faculty is what made her choose the Moore School to pursue her doctorate.

“I could tell that the faculty at the Moore School were different from the day I interviewed at UofSC,” she said. “While it was clear from their CVs that they were all incredibly intelligent, their demeanor and conversation was that of humility. It was evident that the culture of the department was one of mutual respect, and that any criticism given was constructive.”

Since joining the Ph.D. program in 2017, Steury has learned more about the research process and how to think critically about her research.

“The faculty here at the Moore School have taught me so much about the creative process that is research,” she said. “They have helped me to see that research is all about telling an ‘interesting’ story while communicating in a fluid, easily understood manner. The courses that are provided have given me the opportunity to think critically and challenge me far beyond the regurgitation of information.”

Steury has taken the skills and knowledge that she has learned from her courses and directly applied it while researching for her dissertation topic.

“I intend to research a nuance that COVID-19 has brought into audit practice,” she said. “Virtual audits, and therefore a lack of travel expenses, have led to audit engagement staffing being revolutionized. As a result, auditors are more frequently being assigned to audit clients all over the country, rather than those that are in close proximity to themselves.”

Through her research, Steury hopes to investigate the effects of assigning auditors to non-local clients. She predicts that psychological distance will lead auditors to take part in audit quality reducing behaviors to a greater degree than if their clients were close by.  

“This research is important because not only is COVID-19 revolutionizing audit practice right now, but it is changing the way audits will operate in the future,” she said. “Remote work is expected to persist in some capacity and therefore ought to be researched so that audit firms can identify ways to adapt to the evolving environment in ways that will ultimately benefit the field.”

Steury said she is grateful to be able to further her research and be a part of such a well-renowned program that is dedicated to the success of its students.

“My experience in the Moore School thus far has been everything I had hoped it would be,” she said. “It continues to be an absolute honor to be a part of a department that focuses on success in research, while not losing sight of the part they play in the personal and professional growth of their students. Their commitment to integrity and humility is evident in everything that they do.”

After graduation in May 2022, Steury hopes to continue her research and share her passion for accounting with her future students. She said she wants to provide them with the tools they will need to make a difference in their future careers, while encouraging them to challenge the status quo.

-Claire McGrath

Challenge the conventional. Create the exceptional. No Limits.