Communication Barriers between External Auditors and Client/Management: A Maltese Perspective**
Purpose: This study aims to determine which barriers significantly hinder communication between the external auditor and management of Maltese equity listed entities, both from the auditors’ and management’s perspectives. It also explores what both parties believe could be carried out to eliminate or mitigate these barriers, and it compares and contrasts the perceptions of both parties in relation to the communication barriers and mitigation techniques. Design/Methodology/Approach: To attain these objectives, a qualitative research design was adopted. A total of twenty-three semi-structured interviews were carried out. The respondents consisted of eleven auditors and twelve finance representatives of Maltese equity listed entities. Findings: This research concluded that in Malta, the most frequent communication barriers encountered in the auditor-management relationship are the lack of understanding of accounting/auditing terminology, differences in perceptions, the failure to adhere to deadlines/timelines and language barriers. Consequently, to eliminate/reduce these barriers, the most effective mitigation techniques in the Maltese scenario were found to be the preliminary auditor-client meeting and the possession of an enhanced level of listening and communication skills. Originality/Value: This study raises awareness regarding the communication barriers between external auditors and management in the Maltese scenario and how these barriers can be mitigated. It therefore bridges a small state research gap about the communication barriers arising during the audit process between the external auditors and client/management.