Do Alma Mater Ties between the Auditor and Audit Committee Affect Audit Quality?
Posted: 2 Sep 2021
Date Written: August 23, 2021
We examine whether audit firm alma mater ties between the auditor and the audit committee (AC) are associated with significantly greater nonaudit services (NAS) provided by the auditor. We further examine whether greater NAS in the presence of such alma mater ties are associated with audit quality. Since the AC is responsible for approving and monitoring the services provided by the auditor, the presence of AC and auditor alma mater ties underscores the controversies surrounding such ties’ undermining audit quality. Predicating our hypotheses on social ties theory, we find a positive association between the presence of an audit firm alumnus on the AC and NAS acquired from the alma mater auditor. We further find that this association becomes stronger as the tenure of the alumnus increases. Next, using multiple measures of audit quality, we find that, when the alumnus on the AC is associated with significantly more NAS provided by the alma mater audit firm, the quality of the audit suffers. Collectively, our results suggest that audit firm alma mater ties between the AC and auditor engender economic ties that adversely affect audit quality. Our study provides new evidence on the channels through which the quality of the audit is affected and raises important implications for the composition of the AC, auditor-provided NAS, and client assignment to engagement partners.
Keywords: alumnus, audit committees, audit quality, nonaudit services, partners, social ties
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