PurposeThis paper aims to examine whether a private firm’s demand for a Big4 auditor is influenced by the auditor choice of its main supplier, customer and competitor. The authors rely on institutional theory to explain this stakeholders’ influence. The authors also examine whether the extent to which the firm’s board of directors engages in networking moderates this influence.Design/methodology/approachQuestionnaire data are combined with archival data of 210 Belgian private firms with a statutory audit requirement. Logistic regression analysis is applied to examine to what extent firms follow their main competitor, customer and supplier in hiring a Big4 auditor.FindingsThe results reveal a positive association between the firm’s choice of a Big4 auditor and its main supplier being audited by a Big4 auditor, supporting the conformance effect (isomorphism) toward suppliers as hypothesized by institutional theory. The extent of board networking, however, seems to weaken this effect. Toward competitors, a divergence effect instead of a conformance effect is found, which indicates the existence of competitive differentiation regarding auditor choice.Research limitations/implicationsWhile prior studies mainly focus on the agency relationships between shareholders, debtholders and managers to explain auditor choice, this study also takes into account the firm’s other main stakeholders by relying on institutional theory. Both the conformance effect toward suppliers as well as the divergence effect toward competitors provide interesting additional perspectives on why auditors are demanded, leading to interesting future research opportunities.Originality/valueThis paper fulfills an identified need to consider additional theories in explaining audit outcomes.
Managerial Auditing Journal – Emerald Publishing
Published: Feb 5, 2018
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