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Internal audit quality and earnings management: evidence from the UK

Hazem Ramadan Ismael (College of Business and Economics, Qatar University, Doha, Qatar)
Hany Kamel (College of Business and Economics, Qatar University, Doha, Qatar)

Managerial Auditing Journal

ISSN: 0268-6902

Article publication date: 5 August 2021

Issue publication date: 3 September 2021

1292

Abstract

Purpose

This study aims to examine the association between internal audit quality and the involvement of UK companies in earnings management practices.

Design/methodology/approach

To measure the internal audit quality, this study uses 115 responses for a postal questionnaire that was addressed to the heads of internal audit departments in a sample of non-financial listed companies in the UK context. The other financial and governance data for the respondent companies were collected from the Datastream and the companies’ annual reports. The present study uses the signed abnormal accruals as a proxy for earnings management and uses both logistic and ordinary least squares regression models to test the research hypothesis.

Findings

This study finds a negative relationship between the internal audit quality and the abnormal accruals, implying the prominent role of internal audit in reducing the upwards earnings management. The study also finds a significant impact of the internal audit competence on reducing the engagement of UK companies in income-increasing earnings management compared to the internal audit independence. This remarkable result suggests the companies need to focus more on enhancing the internal audit competence to reduce the opportunistic management’s behaviour.

Practical implications

This study has important implications for the internal audit’s practice, regulation and research.

Originality/value

This is the first study that investigates the relationship between internal audit quality and earnings management in the UK context. Furthermore, it uses a comprehensive measure for the internal audit function (IAF) quality covering different aspects of IAF quality based on the global Institute of Internal Auditor standards and prior internal audit literature.

Keywords

Citation

Ismael, H.R. and Kamel, H. (2021), "Internal audit quality and earnings management: evidence from the UK", Managerial Auditing Journal, Vol. 36 No. 7, pp. 951-978. https://doi.org/10.1108/MAJ-09-2020-2830

Publisher

:

Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2020, Emerald Publishing Limited

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