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Agency costs and audit quality: evidence from France

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  • Charles Piot

Abstract

This paper examines the influence of agency conflicts on the demand for audit quality by French listed companies. The French environment is characterized by constraining regulations on independence and informational duties of statutory auditors, a weak contribution of financial markets in corporate financing as compared to Common Law countries, and correlatively a higher ownership concentration. Two agency costs hypotheses are tested: ownership diffusion as a proxy for shareholders managers conflicts, and leverage in high-Investment-Opportunity-Set companies, supposing an increased expropriation risk for debtholders. Audit quality is proxied with a triple distinction of auditors: Big Six, national Majors and Local audit firms. Empirical results do not support the ownership hypothesis and corroborate the debt-IOS one. This suggests that: (1) the Anglo-American principal-agent model has little explanatory power in the concentrated ownership framework of French corporate governance; (2) audit quality appears as a valuable monitoring device that may improve debtholders' protection, enhancing the reliability of accounting numbers when the risk of wealth transfers at the expense of debtholders is significant. Elsewhere, size, complexity and international operations of audited clients do not represent competition barriers between Big Six and national Majors, supporting a significant competition between both categories of audit firms on the market of listed companies.

Suggested Citation

  • Charles Piot, 2001. "Agency costs and audit quality: evidence from France," European Accounting Review, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 10(3), pages 461-499.
  • Handle: RePEc:taf:euract:v:10:y:2001:i:3:p:461-499
    DOI: 10.1080/713764630
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Azhaar Lajmi & Marjène Gana, 2011. "Structure de Propriété et Qualité de l'Audit Externe : Cas des Entreprises Belges Cotées," Post-Print hal-00650542, HAL.
    2. Charles Piot, 2008. "Concentration et compétitivité du marché de l'audit en France:une étude longitudinale 1997-2003," Revue Finance Contrôle Stratégie, revues.org, vol. 11(4), pages 31-63, December.
    3. Fatma Zehri, 2008. "Qualité d'audit externe et gestion des résultats comptables : Cas de la Tunisie," Post-Print halshs-00526001, HAL.
    4. Jamel Azibi & Hubert Tondeur & Mohamed Tahar Rajhi, 2010. "Auditor Choice And Intitutionnel Investor Characteristics After The Enron Scandal In The French Context," Post-Print hal-00481076, HAL.
    5. Ben Ali Chiraz & Cédric Lesage, 2010. "Ownership concentration and audit fees: do auditors matter most when investors are protected least?," Post-Print hal-00476923, HAL.
    6. Charles Piot, 2007. "Concentration Et Compétitivité Du Marché De L'Audit En France : Une Étude Longitudinale 1997-2003," Post-Print halshs-00534787, HAL.
    7. repec:eee:spacre:v:15:y:2012:i:2:p:287-310 is not listed on IDEAS
    8. Charles Piot & Alain Schatt, 2010. "La réglementation de l’audit est-elle dans l’intérêt public:quelques enseignements du modèle français," Working Papers CREGO 1100606, Université de Bourgogne - CREGO EA7317 Centre de recherches en gestion des organisations.
    9. Pascal Dumontier & Sonda Chtourou & Soumaya Ayedi, 2006. "La qualité de l'audit externe et les mécanismes de gouvernance des entreprises : Une étude empirique menée dans le contexte tunisien," Post-Print halshs-00548115, HAL.
    10. Ezzeddine Abaoub & Soumaya Ayedi Chabchoub, 2008. "La demande de la qualité de l'audit externe : Quel apport de la théorie d'agence dans le contexte tunisien ?," Post-Print halshs-00522064, HAL.
    11. I. De Beelde & N. Gonthier-Besacier & A. Mikol, 2006. "The Introduction Of The Anglo-American Audit Firms In France," Working Papers of Faculty of Economics and Business Administration, Ghent University, Belgium 06/392, Ghent University, Faculty of Economics and Business Administration.
    12. Corten, Maarten & Steijvers, Tensie & Lybaert, Nadine, 2017. "The effect of intrafamily agency conflicts on audit demand in private family firms: The moderating role of the board of directors," Journal of Family Business Strategy, Elsevier, vol. 8(1), pages 13-28.
    13. Gilles David & Nadia Mhirsi, 2011. "Etude exploratoire de la structuration du Co-commissariat aux comptes en France," Post-Print halshs-00586218, HAL.
    14. 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.
    15. Timothy Fogarty & Michel Magnan & Garen Markarian & Serge Bohdjalian, 2009. "Inside Agency: The Rise and Fall of Nortel," Journal of Business Ethics, Springer, vol. 84(2), pages 165-187, January.
    16. Jamel Azibi & Hamza Azibi & Hubert Tondeur, 2017. "Institutional Activism, Auditor’s Choice and Earning Management after the Enron Collapse: Evidence from France," International Business Research, Canadian Center of Science and Education, vol. 10(2), pages 154-168, February.
    17. Gilles David & Nadia Mhirsi, 2011. "Etude exploratoire de la structuration du Co-commissariat aux comptes en France," Post-Print hal-00647593, HAL.
    18. Mehdi Nekhili & Wafa Masmoudi & Dhikra Chebbi Nehkili, 2009. "Choix de l’auditeur externe, honoraires d’audit et gouvernance des entreprises françaises," Working Papers CREGO 1090501, Université de Bourgogne - CREGO EA7317 Centre de recherches en gestion des organisations.
    19. Tom Van Caneghem, 2010. "Audit pricing and the Big4 fee premium: evidence from Belgium," Managerial Auditing Journal, Emerald Group Publishing, vol. 25(2), pages 122-139, January.
    20. Gilles David & Nadia Mhirsi, 2011. "Etude exploratoire de la structuration du Co-commissariat aux comptes en France," Post-Print halshs-00596547, HAL.

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