Spatial Competition at the Intersection of the Large and Small Audit Firm Markets
50 Pages Posted: 30 Apr 2013 Last revised: 5 May 2015
Date Written: March 25, 2015
In this paper, we study spatial competition in the U.S. audit market while accounting for its two-tiered nature. We provide evidence on the differential impact that market share distances within and between the players in the large and small audit markets have on competition. We find that the market share distance from small audit firm competitors has a greater effect on the Big 4’s audit fees than distances from other Big 4 competitors. This finding suggests that small audit firms play a significant part in the competitive landscape in local markets. Further, we find that audit fees are increasing with the distance between a small audit firm and its closest competing small audit firm while audit fees are decreasing with the distance between a small audit firm and its closest competing large audit firm. This suggests that while obtaining separation in market space from competing small audit firms reduces competitive pressure from other small audit firms, as a small audit firm gets closer to the market space of a large audit firm it is perceived as being more like the larger audit firm and is able to obtain a fee premium like that attained by the larger audit firms.
Keywords: spatial competition; market for audit services; market space; differentiation; small audit market
JEL Classification: M4, M40, M41, M42, M49
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