2020B01 - The auditor selection process: From tender to relationship management (Dr. Hardies)
The proposed project aims to investigate a sample of companies that will give insight to the entire process through which client companies have to go following the introduction of mandated audit firm rotation. That is: 1) the preparation phase of replacing the incumbent audit firm; 2) the phase in which a new auditor is actually selected, with a specific focus on selection criteria and consideration of the individual engagement partner; and 3) the phase after the appointment of the new auditor. Specifically, the proposed project seeks to provide answers to the following fundamental questions: 1) How do client companies experience and prepare for selecting a new auditor as a result of the regulatory implementation of mandatory audit firm rotation? 2) How do client companies decide on criteria to evaluate prospective auditors and implement their process to select a new auditor? 3) How does the relationship between auditors, management, and audit committees unfold after the appointment of a new auditor? This project will make use of a qualitative approach to study the “black box” of the selection process, since access to such data is rare. That is, analyzing interview and documentary evidence, we will conduct an in-depth study of a small number of actual cases where companies had to decide on the selection and appointment of a new auditor. The insights obtained from the project will not only be of interest to the academic community, but also to audit clients, audit firms, standard setters, and regulators to better understand the complex process of selecting a new auditor.
The process of selecting and appointing an auditor is complex. A robust, objective and transparent auditor selection process is, however, essential to preserve auditor independence and ensure audit quality. Prior research has focused on how audit firm characteristics (e.g. firm size, industry specialization) influence companies’ decisions in the selection of their auditor. Because companies are not required to publicly disclose information on how an auditor is being selected, much remains unknown about the auditor selection process. The goal of the current project is to identify the antecedents and correlates of audit quality that relate to the auditor selection process, in the context of mandated audit firm rotation. We take advantage of the unique institutional setting provided by the Dutch experience, where mandatory audit firm rotation has been implemented as a potential solution to the possibility that long auditor tenure may lead to a deterioration of auditor independence and audit quality.
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