We examine the cross-sectional determinants of audit engagement length, paying particular attention to abnormal accruals as a potential driver. We are interested in how the potentially incongruent incentives of managers and auditors can cause frictions, and in turn affect the audit engagement’s life expectancy. We estimate a hazard model in the form of a multi-period logit model, allowing us to estimate (the inverse of) the life expectancy of audit engagements. We find that audit engagement life expectancy at any age decreases when firms make relatively large positive or large negative abnormal accruals. One interpretation of these results is that large positive (negative) abnormal accruals make the auditor (client) more likely to terminate the engagement. Conversely, smaller abnormal accruals reflect a compromise which extends the life of the engagement. Our results are robust to several alternative specifications and controls. However, because there is no complete theoretical model that explains audit engagement length, our results should be interpreted with caution.
Review of Quantitative Finance and Accounting – Springer Journals
Published: Mar 21, 2012
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