The Impact of Consulting Services on Audit Quality: An Experimental Approach
56 Pages Posted: 2 Jan 2018
Date Written: December 21, 2017
We use experimental markets to examine whether providing consulting services to a nonaudit client impacts audit quality. Our paper directly addresses concerns raised by the Public Company Accounting Oversight Board that the largest public accounting firms’ growth in their consulting practices threatens audit quality. We conduct an experiment proposed using a registration-based editorial process. We compare a baseline where the auditor does not provide consulting services to conditions where auditors provide consulting to audit clients or where auditors only provide consulting services to nonaudit clients. Our unique design provides evidence on whether providing consulting to nonaudit clients strengthens the salience of a client-cooperative social norm that reduces audit quality. We do not find differences in audit quality by condition in our planned analysis, however we find greater variation in audit quality in the conditions where auditors provide consulting services compared to the baseline. In unplanned analyses, our results suggest providing consulting services increases auditor cooperation with managers, increasing audit quality when managers prefer high audit quality and decreasing audit quality when managers prefer low audit quality.
Keywords: Auditor Independence, Consulting, Social Bonds, Experimental Economics
JEL Classification: G41, M42
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation