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FAR Working Paper 2023/09 - 20: Empirical Evidence on Gender Effect and Workload Allocation in Audit Firms

In this paper, we investigate gender differences in the workload allocation process. Using a sample of 3,747 partner-year observations and 107,192 firm-year observations from Belgium, we find that female partners are associated with lower levels of workload in terms of the number of clients they serve. Our results also show that female partners audit fewer new clients. We find that the gender effect on workload is particularly strong for partners in the earlier stages of their careers. For experienced partners, we do not find gender differences in their workload, suggesting that differences between males and females in terms of workload eventually disappear. Further, we find that female auditors have clients with higher audit quality, but when controlling for workload this effect becomes smaller and even disappears in the full and Non-Big 4 sample. Our results suggest that differences in the workload allocation process can be a contributing factor to different levels of audit quality that female partners provide compared to their male counterparts. That is male auditors audit significantly more clients, which may constitute a risk factor for the audit quality they provide.


Prof. dr. Eddy Cardinaels

Eddy Cardinaels (1975) is full Professor of accounting at Tilburg University and part-time professor at KU Leuven. His work combines new insights from psychology and behavioral economics to study how different information presentation (ABC, BSC, summaries of earnings releases) can affect decision making of managers within companies. Other experimental work focuses on drivers of honest reporting and social motives in inter-firm negotiations. He also conducts archival work on corporate governance examining how social connections between board members affect financial reporting, how companies use their networks to engage in tax avoidance and factors that drive (excess) compensation. 

Ass. Prof. Simon Dekeyser
Cara Zhang PhD student
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