A New Era for the Big 8? Evidence on the Association Between Earnings Quality and Audit Firm Type
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I examine the association between earnings quality and audit firm type using a three-tiered audit firm classification scheme which allows for an explicit examination of the quality of Second-Tier audited earnings. My tests are motivated by the lack of competition in the market for audit services, theoretical arguments which suggest a positive association between audit firm size and audit quality, evidence pointing to the rapid post-Andersen growth in Second-Tier audit practices, and the lack of empirical research that fully differentiates audit firm type. My results indicate that the post-Andersen growth of Second-Tier audit firms coincides with improved Second-Tier audit quality, relative to the other audit firm types (Big N and other non-Big N). Specifically, the results indicate that Second-Tier client earnings quality was not distinct from that of other non-Big N clients in the pre-Andersen period. However, in the post-Andersen period, the results indicate that Second-Tier client earnings quality was higher than that of other non-Big N clients. Moreover, the post-Andersen results provide partial evidence suggesting that there is no difference in Second-Tier and Big N client earnings quality and, thus, lend some credence to the notion of a new era for the Big 8. These results convey important information to market participants (e.g., investors, underwriters, analysts, etc.) who wish to assess the extent to which financial statements are likely to be free from opportunistic managerial manipulation, to clients that are contemplating switching to a Second-Tier audit firm, to government agencies who have expressed concern over the state of competition in the market for audit services, and to those who have promoted the use of Second-Tier audit firms in the wake of SOX-related resource constraints.
SubjectSecond-Tier audit firms
Big N audit firms
Cassell, Cory A. (2009). A New Era for the Big 8? Evidence on the Association Between Earnings Quality and Audit Firm Type. Doctoral dissertation, Texas A&M University. Available electronically from