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The Market for Liars: Reputation and Auditor Honesty

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  • Andrew McLennan
  • In-Uck Park

Abstract

In the model there are two types of financial auditors with identical technology, one of which is endowed with a prior reputation for honesty. We characterize conditions under which there exists a "two-tier equilibrium" in which "reputable" auditors refuse bribes offered by clients for fear of losing reputation, while "disreputable" auditors accept bribes because even persistent refusal does not create a good reputation. The main findings are: (a) honest auditors charge higher fees, and have economic profits accruing to reputation; (b) as the fraction of auditors who are honest increases, the premium charged by reputable auditors eventually decreases, which diminishes the incentive to refuse bribes; (c) if the fraction of honest auditors exceeds an upper bound, there does not exist a two-tier equilibrium; (d) thus the reputation mechanism may be undermined by entry into the honest segment of the industry, if it is possible; (e) increasing auditor independence increases the upper bound.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Institute of Social and Economic Research, Osaka University in its series ISER Discussion Paper with number 0587.

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Date of creation: Jun 2003
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Handle: RePEc:dpr:wpaper:0587

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  1. Milgrom, Paul & Roberts, John, 1982. "Predation, reputation, and entry deterrence," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 27(2), pages 280-312, August.
  2. Craswell, Allen T. & Francis, Jere R. & Taylor, Stephen L., 1995. "Auditor brand name reputations and industry specializations," Journal of Accounting and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 20(3), pages 297-322, December.
  3. Dye, Ronald A, 1993. "Auditing Standards, Legal Liability, and Auditor Wealth," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 101(5), pages 887-914, October.
  4. Kreps, David M. & Wilson, Robert, 1982. "Reputation and imperfect information," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 27(2), pages 253-279, August.
  5. Shapiro, Carl, 1983. "Premiums for High Quality Products as Returns to Reputations," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 98(4), pages 659-79, November.
  6. Francis, Jere R., 1984. "The effect of audit firm size on audit prices : A study of the Australian Market," Journal of Accounting and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 6(2), pages 133-151, August.
  7. DeAngelo, Linda Elizabeth, 1981. "Auditor size and audit quality," Journal of Accounting and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 3(3), pages 183-199, December.
  8. Paul K. Chaney, 2002. "Shredded Reputation: The Cost of Audit Failure," Journal of Accounting Research, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 40(4), pages 1221-1245, 09.
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Cited by:
  1. Jullien, Bruno & Park, In-Uck, 2009. "New, Like New, or Very Good? Reputation and Credibility," TSE Working Papers 09-086, Toulouse School of Economics (TSE), revised 29 Jan 2014.
  2. Bruno Jullien & In-Uck Park, 2011. "Seller Reputation and Trust in Pre-Trade Communication," The Centre for Market and Public Organisation 11/272, Department of Economics, University of Bristol, UK.

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