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Earnings management and audit quality in Europe: Evidence from the private client segment market


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  • VAN TENDELOO, Brenda


This paper examines audit quality in private firms across different European countries. Prior research (e.g. Becker et al., 1998; Francis et al., 1999) has shown that audit quality provides a constraint on earnings management for public firms. We investigate whether audit quality differentiation also holds in private firms, constituting the majority of the EU economy and the EU market for audit services. This is an empirical question given that opposing arguments for (and against) the existence of a Big 4 audit quality difference between public and private firms can be given. Moreover, we question whether this audit quality difference, if any, is influenced by institutional factors. Using data on private firms of six European countries, this study provides evidence that, after controlling for self-selection, audit quality differentiation between Big 4 and non-Big 4 audit firms also exists in the private client segment market. However, we do not find support for an audit quality difference between second-tier and small audit firms. Consistent with prior research, we find that private companies domiciled in countries with a stronger investor protection engage less in earnings management. In addition, our results suggest that audit quality and investor protection are substitutes in constraining earnings management in private firms, in the sense that the Big 4 audit quality effect attenuates when investor protection is stronger.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by University of Antwerp, Faculty of Applied Economics in its series Working Papers with number 2005012.

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Length: 15 pages
Date of creation: May 2005
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:ant:wpaper:2005012

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Cited by:
  1. Jyrki Niskanen & Jukka Karjalainen & Mervi Niskanen & Jussi Karjalainen, 2011. "Auditor gender and corporate earnings management behavior in private Finnish firms," Managerial Auditing Journal, Emerald Group Publishing, vol. 26(9), pages 778-793, November.
  2. Ferrer García, Cristina & Laínez Gadea, José Antonio, 2013. "Detectando diferencias en la medición de la calidad del resultado: evidencia empírica para empresas españolas || Detecting Differences on the Earnings Quality Measurement: Empirical Evidence on Spa," Revista de Métodos Cuantitativos para la Economía y la Empresa = Journal of Quantitative Methods for Economics and Business Administration, Universidad Pablo de Olavide, Department of Quantitative Methods for Economics and Business Administration, vol. 16(1), pages 5-28, December.
  3. Tom Caneghem & Geert Campenhout, 2012. "Quantity and quality of information and SME financial structure," Small Business Economics, Springer, vol. 39(2), pages 341-358, September.
  4. Beuselinck, Christof & Deloof, Marc, 2014. "Earnings Management in Business Groups: Tax Incentives or Expropriation Concealment?," The International Journal of Accounting, Elsevier, vol. 49(1), pages 27-52.
  5. Mehmet Ünsal Memis & Emin Hüseyin Cetenak, 2012. "Earnings Management, Audit Quality and Legal Environment: An International Comparison," International Journal of Economics and Financial Issues, Econjournals, vol. 2(4), pages 460-469.
  6. Saibal Ghosh, 2011. "Firm ownership type, earnings management and auditor relationships: evidence from India," Managerial Auditing Journal, Emerald Group Publishing, vol. 26(4), pages 350-369, May.
  7. Manuel Cano Rodríguez & Santiago Sánchez Alegría, 2012. "The value of audit quality in public and private companies: evidence from Spain," Journal of Management and Governance, Springer, vol. 16(4), pages 683-706, November.
  8. VAN TENDELOO, Brenda, 2007. "Audit quality and tax-induced earnings management in UK private firms," Working Papers 2007004, University of Antwerp, Faculty of Applied Economics.
  9. Hope, Ole-Kristian & Langli, John Christian & Thomas, Wayne B., 2012. "Agency conflicts and auditing in private firms," Accounting, Organizations and Society, Elsevier, vol. 37(7), pages 500-517.
  10. Yasemin KARAIBRAHIMOGLU, 2013. "Is Corporate Governance A Determinant of Auditor Choice?-Evidence From Turkey," Ege Academic Review, Ege University Faculty of Economics and Administrative Sciences, vol. 13(2), pages 273-284.
  11. Arnedo, Laura & Lizarraga, Fermin & Sanchez, Santiago, 2007. "Does public/private status affect the level of earnings management in code-law contexts outside the United States? A study based on the Spanish case," The International Journal of Accounting, Elsevier, vol. 42(3), pages 305-328.
  12. Mahmoud Moeinadin & Jamal Barzagari Khaneghah & Jamal Tabatabaei Mazraehno, 2013. "Investigating the Effect of Audit Quality on Over-investment Using Measures of Auditor Specialty and Audit Tenure for Listed Companies in Tehran Stock Exchange," International Journal of Academic Research in Accounting, Finance and Management Sciences, Human Resource Management Academic Research Society, International Journal of Academic Research in Accounting, Finance and Management Sciences, vol. 3(4), pages 229-244, October.


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