How do auditors respond to competition? Evidence from the bidding process
70 Pages Posted: 23 Feb 2018 Last revised: 28 Dec 2021
Date Written: November 30, 2021
Prior research provides mixed evidence about whether competition among auditors impairs or improves audit quality. An impediment to this stream of research is the inability of researchers to observe the audit engagement bidding process. We develop a method of detecting bidding by applying a machine learning algorithm to non-incumbent (i.e., competitor) auditor views of public companies’ SEC filings. We validate our method using a proprietary sample where all instances of bidding are known. We then examine the associations between bidding, audit quality, and audit pricing. Contrary to concerns that competitive pressure may cause auditors to compromise their independence, we find that incumbent auditors perform higher quality audits during bidding years. This improvement in audit quality occurs regardless of whether the bidding ultimately results in an auditor change and persists for several years when the incumbent auditor wins reappointment. We also find that bidding is associated with modest audit fee concessions.
Keywords: auditor competition, audit market concentration, audit quality, audit fees
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