The effectiveness of increasing sample size to mitigate the influence of population characteristics in haphazard sampling

Thomas W. Hall, Terri L. Herron, Bethane Jo Pierce, Terry J. Witt

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Over 40 years ago both Deming (1954) and Arkin (1957) expressed concerns that the composition of samples chosen through haphazard selection may be unrepresentative due to the presence of unintended selection biases. To mitigate this problem some experts in the field of audit sampling recommend increasing sample sizes by up to 100 percent when utilizing haphazard selection. To examine the effectiveness of this recommendation 142 participants selected haphazard samples from two populations. The compositions of these samples were then analyzed to determine if certain population elements were overrepresented, and if the extent of overrepresentation declined as sample size increased. Analyses disclosed that certain population elements were overrepresented in the samples. Also, increasing sample size produced no statistically significant change in the composition of samples from one population, while in the second population increasing the sample size produced a statistically significant but minor reduction in overrepresentation. These results suggest that individuals may be incapable of complying with audit guidelines that haphazard sample selections be made without regard to the observable physical features of population elements and cast doubt on the effectiveness of using larger sample sizes to mitigate the problem. Given these findings, standard-setting bodies should reconsider the conditions under which haphazard sampling is sanctioned as a reliable audit tool.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)169-185
Number of pages17
JournalAuditing
Volume20
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Mar 2001

Keywords

  • Audit sampling
  • Haphazard sampling
  • Sample selection bias

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