An Audit is an Audit? Evidence from the German Private Firm Sector
DBW – Die Betriebswirtschaft (BARev - Business Administration Review), Vol. 73, Iss. 4, 2013, pp. 325-353.
Posted: 17 Dec 2014
Date Written: July 1, 2013
This study investigates the audit quality differential between Big 4, mid-tier and smaller (independent) audit firms employing a large sample of private German firms. The results contribute to literature for a multitude of reasons. Most studies focus on audit quality employing public firm samples. The market for public firm audits is dominated by Big 4 audit firms, whereas the market for private firm audits is far more competitive. Moreover, unlike most studies, this paper employs three proxy metrics for earnings quality. Discretionary accruals, income smoothing as well as the cross-sectionally unexplained portion of conservatism are facets of accounting earnings quality. Big 4 audit firms provide higher audit quality than mid-tier auditors, which in turn provide higher audit quality than smaller (independent) auditors. Hence, this study contributes to the ongoing discussion about audit market concentration.
Keywords: Audit quality, Earnings quality, Private firms
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