Self-Selection of Auditors and Audit Pricing in Private Firms
49 Pages Posted: 7 Jun 2003
Date Written: February 17, 2003
Prior research has examined audit pricing for publicly held firms and provided some evidence of a Big 8 premium in pricing. We investigate audit pricing among private firms, and provide evidence that private firms do not pay such a premium on average. The relatively greater degree of dispersion in auditor choice (between Big 5 and non-Big 5 auditors) in our large sample of privately held audit clients allows us to predict the auditor choice for each firm and to control for potential self-selection. We reject the null hypothesis that clients are randomly allocated across Big 5 and non-Big 5 auditors. Consistent with the extant literature, we document a Big 5 premium; however the premium vanishes once we control for self-selection bias. Moreover, we find that client firms choosing Big 5 auditors generally would have faced higher fees had they chosen non-Big 5 auditors, given their firm-specific characteristics. Our results are consistent with audit markets for private firms being segmented along cost-effective lines. Further, our results suggest that auditees in our setting do not, on average, view Big 5 auditors as superior in terms of the perceived quality of the services provided to a degree significant enough to warrant a fee premium.
Keywords: Big 5, fee premium, audit choice, private firms
JEL Classification: M49, M41
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation