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Initial Retention of External Accountants in Startup Ventures


  • Gavin Cassar
  • Christopher Ittner


This study investigates the determinants of the initial retention of external accountants by new US startups. We test several arguments related to agency and credibility needs, financial activity and complexity, and accounting support and advice. Consistent with financial activity and complexity arguments, we find that intended scale and bank account activity are positively associated with both the actual and intended retention of an accountant. Comparing the decision to retain an accountant with the retention of another professional service, retaining a lawyer, we find many of the same factors to be significant. However, we find that lawyers are more likely to be retained during heightened uncertainty, primarily given the role of lawyers with patent and intellectual property assistance. Overall, these results suggest that some of the determinants of external accountant retention contrast with the determinants of internal accounting resource adoption, which are primarily related to decision-making needs and uncertainty.

Suggested Citation

  • Gavin Cassar & Christopher Ittner, 2009. "Initial Retention of External Accountants in Startup Ventures," European Accounting Review, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 18(2), pages 313-340.
  • Handle: RePEc:taf:euract:v:18:y:2009:i:2:p:313-340
    DOI: 10.1080/09638180902731562

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    Cited by:

    1. Per Davidsson & Scott Gordon, 2012. "Panel studies of new venture creation: a methods-focused review and suggestions for future research," Small Business Economics, Springer, vol. 39(4), pages 853-876, November.

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