Accounting for trust: The determinants of trust in the Australian public accountant – small and medium-sized enterprise client relationship

Michael Cherry

    Research output: ThesisDoctoral Thesis

    204 Downloads (Pure)


    This multi-discipline research, covering client relationships and the public accounting space, investigated trust in the relationship between Australia’s public accountants and their small and medium-sized enterprise (SME) clients. It describes the contribution of the accountancy profession to the SME sector, as well as the key challenges faced by accountants and their SME clients. Following a review of prior scholarly studies, a definition of trust as it relates to this important relationship was developed and presented. Similarly, the role of the public accountant, which acknowledges both conformance-related and performance-related services, was distilled from a review of the objectives of Australia’s three public accounting accreditation bodies. In excess of four hundred SME leaders, across Australia, were surveyed to test a conceptual model and person/relationship-related variables were found to be the most significant predictors of trust in this important relationship. The multidimensionality of the trust construct was also highlighted. Offer-related variables, primarily the provision of advisory or performance-related services (rather than conformance-related services), were also found to be significant, however, at a lesser level than person/relationship-related variables. These findings may provide practitioners with insights into how better to service and develop the relationship with their SME client base. Such findings could also be of interest to the officially recognised accreditation bodies (CAANZ, CPA Australia & IPA), overall objectives, as well as training and professional development offerings to their membership. Researchers will have insight which provide the opportunity for further refinement and development of the relational models presented and development of the research in this area. The above findings may also have implications for the development and delivery of academic programmes in the professional accounting space, as well as required professional accreditation programmes and ongoing education.
    Original languageEnglish
    QualificationDoctor of Business Administration
    Awarding Institution
    • Charles Sturt University
    • McGrath, Dianne, Principal Supervisor
    Award date01 Jul 2018
    Publication statusPublished - 2018


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