Does ownership structure affect the quality of auditor pair composition?

Mishari M. Alfraih (Accounting Department, The Public Authority for Applied Education and Training, Kuwait City, Kuwait)

Journal of Financial Reporting and Accounting

ISSN: 1985-2517

Publication date: 3 July 2017

Abstract

Purpose

This study examines the effects of institutional and government ownership on audit quality in Kuwait. Kuwait provides an interesting regulatory context as listed firms are legally required to appoint two external auditors from different auditing firms. This offers a unique opportunity to examine differentiation in demand for audit quality when there are three potential combinations of auditors: two non-Big 4, one Big 4 and one non-Big 4 and two Big 4.

Design/methodology/approach

The sample consists of all firms listed on the Kuwait Stock Exchange in 2013. Multinomial logistic regression examines the influence of ownership structure on audit quality. Analyses are controlled for the effect of company characteristics. Control variables are: firm size, complexity, growth, leverage, profitability and industry category.

Findings

The results show that institutional ownership is positively related to the number of Big 4 auditing firms that audit a company’s financial statements. This reflects the powerful and influential role institutional investors play in discouraging management from choosing lower-quality providers. In contrast, government ownership has a negative impact on audit quality. These findings are consistent with the hypothesis that audit quality is a function of, among other factors, the structure of equity ownership.

Practical implications

Given the importance of audits, knowledge of the determinants of audit quality is of particular interest to regulators, enforcement agencies and investors. The findings imply that different ownership structures have different effects on the demand for audit quality; some structures strengthen it, while others weaken it. The negative relation between government ownership and audit quality raises serious questions about the effectiveness of government in monitoring its investments.

Originality/value

This paper extends the literature by investigating the determinants of the choice of auditors in an emerging market where there is a joint audit requirement. It highlights the important role played by ownership structure in shaping demand for audit quality. A distinguishing feature in previous research is the classification of the audit quality proxy into two choices (Big 4 vs non-Big 4 auditors). However, the regulatory context in Kuwait means that there are three choices. Thus, unusually, a multinomial logistic regression is used for the analysis.

Keywords

Citation

Alfraih, M. (2017), "Does ownership structure affect the quality of auditor pair composition?", Journal of Financial Reporting and Accounting, Vol. 15 No. 2, pp. 245-263. https://doi.org/10.1108/JFRA-08-2015-0076

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Publisher

:

Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2017, Emerald Publishing Limited

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