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Auditing and earnings management in New Zealand

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thesis
posted on 2021-12-08, 11:16 authored by Le, Nam Hoai

The research summarised in this thesis focuses on two research issues of particular importance to the New Zealand economy. First, the thesis examines the impact of audit factors on the level of earnings management. Second, the thesis empirically assesses the relationship between the level of earnings management and the audit fees charged by audit firms. In the empirical work summarised in this thesis I use the absolute value of discretionary accruals (DACCs) as a proxy for earnings management. I estimate DACCs for each sample firm by using the modified Jones (1991) model. Moreover, several auditor characteristics have been employed in the thesis as proxies for auditor quality and independence. I use a BIG4 dummy variable (that equals 1 if the auditor is a Big 4 audit firm and 0 otherwise), an AOFFICE dummy variable (that equals 1 if the audit firm’s office is located in Wellington or Auckland and 0 otherwise), an AO dummy variable (that equals 1 if the client firm receives a qualified or conditional audit opinion and 0 otherwise) and a FISCAL dummy variable (that equals 1 if the client firm’s fiscal year-end falls in the period from March to June and 0 otherwise) as proxies for audit quality. I also use a RNAF variable (as measured by the ratio of non-audit fees to total fees paid) and a C_AUDITOR dummy variable (that equals 1 if a client firm changes its audit firm and 0 otherwise) as proxies for auditor independence in relation to the level of DACCs. The empirical results summarised in the thesis show that the level of DACCs is significantly and negatively associated with the BIG4 and AOFFICE variables. This result is consistent with the common perception that higher quality auditors will lead to a higher audit quality and that this in turn will reduce level of DACCs. I also find a positive and statistically significant relationship between the FISCAL variable and the level of DACCs. This result indicates that DACCs are likely to be higher if the audit is conducted during the busy audit season. The empirical results summarised in the thesis also show a positive and significant relationship between the audit opinion (AO) variable and the level of DACCs. This means that a qualified or conditional audit opinion is more likely to occur if the financial statements involve a relatively higher level of DACCs. However, the empirical results summarised in the thesis report an insignificant relationship between the level of DACCs and the C_AUDITOR and RNAF variables. These results mean that auditor independence does not appear to have any impact on the level of DACCs. In part two of this thesis, I examine whether the level of DACCs in the current year is associated with the level of the audit fee in the next ensuing year. Here it is well known that each year the auditor will review both the general and specific factors affecting their audit responsibilities in relation to a particular audit client. Hence, the agreed audit fee for the next ensuing year is likely to reflect information about the level of earnings management in prior years and of how the issues arising out of these earnings management procedures have been resolved between the client firm and the audit firm. In order to test this hypotheses, I employ the audit fee model of Simunic (1980) as refined by Choi et al. (2009), Francis and Simon (1987), Hay et al. (2006b) and Menon and Williams (2001). As expected, the second set of empirical results summarised in the thesis show a positive and statistically significant relationship between the level of DACCs in the current year and the level of the audit fee in the next ensuing year. This means that a high level of DACCs in the current year will impact positively on the level of the audit fee in the next ensuing year.

History

Copyright Date

2014-01-01

Date of Award

2014-01-01

Publisher

Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington

Rights License

Author Retains Copyright

Degree Discipline

Accounting

Degree Grantor

Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington

Degree Level

Doctoral

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

ANZSRC Type Of Activity code

970115 Expanding Knowledge in Commerce, Management, Tourism and Services

Victoria University of Wellington Item Type

Awarded Doctoral Thesis

Language

en_NZ

Victoria University of Wellington School

School of Accounting and Commercial Law

Advisors

Tippett, Mark; Truong, Thu Phuong