Can Auditors Be Independent? – Experimental Evidence on the Effects of Client Type
Christopher W. Koch
University of Mannheim
University of Mannheim - Department of Banking and Finance
University of Mannheim - Business School
September 28, 2011
European Accounting Review, Forthcoming
Recent regulatory initiatives stress that an independent oversight board, rather than the management board, should assume the role of auditors’ client. In an experiment, we test whether the type of client affects auditors’ independence. Unique features of the German institutional setting enable us to realistically vary the type of auditors’ client as our treatment variable: we portray the client either as the management preferring aggressive accounting or the oversight board preferring conservative accounting. We measure auditors’ perceived client retention incentives and accountability pressure in a post-experiment questionnaire to capture potential threats to independence. We find that the type of auditors’ client affects auditors’ behavior contingent on the degree of the perceived threats to independence. Our findings imply that both client retention incentives and accountability pressure represent distinctive threats to auditors’ independence and that the effectiveness of an oversight board in enhancing auditors’ independence depends on the underlying threat.
Keywords: auditor independence, accountability pressure, client retention incentives, oversight board, behavioral experiment
JEL Classification: C90, K22, M42Accepted Paper Series
Date posted: September 29, 2011
© 2013 Social Science Electronic Publishing, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
This page was processed by apollo3 in 0.672 seconds