Establishing an audit committee presumably strengthens the external auditor’s independence. Several studies have examined how audit committees affect the selection of the company’s external auditor, negotiate audit fees and enhance the auditor’s independence. But what of the independence of the audit committee members themselves? Do audit committee members exhibit biases when they select their company’s auditors? The relationship between the entity’s external auditor and the audit committee member’s affiliated company’s auditors has not been examined. For example, are audit committee members prone to select or remain with audit firms with which they have developed a formal relationship within their own company? This study of 247 New York Stock Exchange firms finds significant relationships (at the 0.05 level of significance) between CPA firms selected by audit committees and by the CPA firm which audits the audit committee member’s own organization. Results indicate that audit committee members exhibit conscious or unconscious biases in their selection or retention of their companies’ auditors.
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