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Partner cross-contagion in audit offices and client reporting quality

Partner cross-contagion in audit offices and client reporting quality The purpose of this study is to examine if partner cross-contagion in audit offices is associated with client reporting quality. To this end, the authors test if the presence in an audit office of a partner with a highly aggressive style is associated with the reporting quality of other partners’ clients. Partners with a highly aggressive style are identified by their tendency to approve favorable client reporting. The authors add to the existing literature that provides limited and equivocal evidence on audit office cross-contagion.Design/methodology/approachPartner style is determined in an estimation period from 2010 to 2014. Aggressive style is identified when partners tend to approve favorable client reporting, which is shown by a positive value for their clients’ median discretionary accruals. Partners are considered to exhibit a highly aggressive style if they have positive median client discretionary accruals within the 90th percentile. Cross-contagion analysis is then conducted in a test period from 2015 to 2019 by determining if the presence in an office of a partner with a highly aggressive style is associated with the reporting quality of other partners’ clients. Two measures of client reporting quality used. These are the accuracy of current-period accruals in predicting period-ahead cash flows and earnings management related to benchmark beating.FindingsThis study finds partner cross-contagion of highly aggressive style in Big 4 offices that is associated with lower client reporting quality for non-Metals and Mining industry clients. This cross-contagion only occurs when the contagious partner has a very high level of aggressive style. This study finds Big 4 partners are susceptible to aggressive style cross-contagion regardless of their own idiosyncratic style. The results of this study show more cross-contagion in small Big 4 offices and mitigation of cross-contagion for economically important clients. Cross-contagion in non-Big 4 offices is observed for Metals and Mining industry clients.Originality/valueBy determining style from partners’ past clients’ discretionary accruals, this study extends prior cross-contagion research that relies on restatements to identify style. This study examines several other cross-contagion issues not addressed in prior studies. These include differences in cross-contagion for Big 4 and non-Big 4 offices and for large and small Big 4 offices, partners’ susceptibility to cross-contagion and the influence of client importance. http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Managerial Auditing Journal Emerald Publishing

Partner cross-contagion in audit offices and client reporting quality

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References (74)

Publisher
Emerald Publishing
Copyright
© Emerald Publishing Limited
ISSN
0268-6902
eISSN
0268-6902
DOI
10.1108/maj-11-2021-3375
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

The purpose of this study is to examine if partner cross-contagion in audit offices is associated with client reporting quality. To this end, the authors test if the presence in an audit office of a partner with a highly aggressive style is associated with the reporting quality of other partners’ clients. Partners with a highly aggressive style are identified by their tendency to approve favorable client reporting. The authors add to the existing literature that provides limited and equivocal evidence on audit office cross-contagion.Design/methodology/approachPartner style is determined in an estimation period from 2010 to 2014. Aggressive style is identified when partners tend to approve favorable client reporting, which is shown by a positive value for their clients’ median discretionary accruals. Partners are considered to exhibit a highly aggressive style if they have positive median client discretionary accruals within the 90th percentile. Cross-contagion analysis is then conducted in a test period from 2015 to 2019 by determining if the presence in an office of a partner with a highly aggressive style is associated with the reporting quality of other partners’ clients. Two measures of client reporting quality used. These are the accuracy of current-period accruals in predicting period-ahead cash flows and earnings management related to benchmark beating.FindingsThis study finds partner cross-contagion of highly aggressive style in Big 4 offices that is associated with lower client reporting quality for non-Metals and Mining industry clients. This cross-contagion only occurs when the contagious partner has a very high level of aggressive style. This study finds Big 4 partners are susceptible to aggressive style cross-contagion regardless of their own idiosyncratic style. The results of this study show more cross-contagion in small Big 4 offices and mitigation of cross-contagion for economically important clients. Cross-contagion in non-Big 4 offices is observed for Metals and Mining industry clients.Originality/valueBy determining style from partners’ past clients’ discretionary accruals, this study extends prior cross-contagion research that relies on restatements to identify style. This study examines several other cross-contagion issues not addressed in prior studies. These include differences in cross-contagion for Big 4 and non-Big 4 offices and for large and small Big 4 offices, partners’ susceptibility to cross-contagion and the influence of client importance.

Journal

Managerial Auditing JournalEmerald Publishing

Published: Jan 3, 2023

Keywords: Audit; Partner; Style; Cross-contagion; M42

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