Audit Pricing for Strategic Alliances: An Incomplete Contract Perspective
45 Pages Posted: 28 May 2012 Last revised: 3 Dec 2016
Date Written: June 1, 2015
We study the pricing of audit services for strategic alliances, a governance structure involving an incomplete contract between separate firms. Since incomplete contracts do not specify all future contingencies, we expect that the non-verifiability of information and potential agency behavior in alliances increases audit complexity, resulting in higher audit fees. Our findings support this prediction. We then separate strategic alliances into joint ventures and contractual alliances as the latter involve more complexity. We find that our audit fee results are largely driven by contractual alliances. We perform additional tests to rule out the concern that our audit fee results might be attributable to the impact of strategic alliances on distress risk, audit risk, or control risk. Contrary to the distress risk argument, we find that auditors are less likely to issue going-concern modified opinions when there is an increase in strategic alliances. Contrary to the audit risk argument, we find that an increase in strategic alliances is unrelated to the likelihood of financial misstatements. Contrary to the control risk argument, we find that an increase in strategic alliances is unrelated to internal control weakness opinions.
Keywords: Strategic alliance; Audit fee; Incomplete contract; Audit complexity
JEL Classification: M42, L14, L24
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation