Does Audit Partner Workload Compression Affect Audit Quality?
Forthcoming, European Accounting Review
58 Pages Posted: 3 Feb 2020 Last revised: 4 Feb 2020
Date Written: January 10, 2020
The effect of workload compression on the behavior of individual auditors has received extensive attention from regulators and scholars. We study this effect by utilizing two unique institutional features of the Chinese capital market: (1) the auditor signature requirement that reveals audit partner identities and (2) the uniform December 31 fiscal year-end that intensifies workload compression for audit partners. Calculated based on audit fees, our new measure of audit partner workload compression (APWC) is negatively related to accruals quality and the probability of modified audit opinions, while positively associated with the propensity to report small profits and the prospect of audit report delays. Nevertheless, accounting firms and client firms with audit partners facing workload compression are not more likely to receive government sanctions. These findings imply that APWC impairs audit quality but not to the extent that it would lead to egregious outcomes. Our evidence supports the PCAOB call to monitor workloads for individual auditors.
Keywords: Audit partner workload; Audit quality; Audit Opinion; Audit report delay
JEL Classification: M42
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation