Audit, auditing profession, audit fees


The dissertation consists of three studies examining three different regulatory issues that affect the auditing profession. The first study has two main foci. First, the study investigates the impact of Sarbanes-Oxley Act (SOX) on the Big 4 fee premium. Second, the study investigates the relationship between the size of an audit client and annual fee change. The results show that in the post-SOX environment, clients of non-Big 4 firms have experienced greater increases in audit fees than the clients of the Big 4 firms, resulting in a diminishing Big 4 premium. This is consistent with the notion that non-Big 4 clients had to make significant adjustments to meet post-SOX quality requirements by increasing their effort (and consequently audit fees). The results also show audit firms’ large clients experience the largest percentage increase in audit fees. This is consistent with the theoretical view of consumer surplus, where the large clients, with more resources, have greater levels of consumer surplus, which is being captured by the audit firms. The study contributes to our understanding of the impact of SOX on audit fee premium and the economics of audit market competition in different client segments. The second study is focused on three main areas: 1) the relationship between audit fees and audit market concentration on a country level; 2) the effect of a country’s litigation regime on the relationship between audit fees and market concentration and 3) the inter-relations between competition, fees, and quality in the market for audit services. The study is motivated by the current debate in the United States and the European Union about the possible problems associated with the current oligopolistic structure of the audit market. The contribution of this study lies in the fact that it provides a multi-national empirical investigation of the audit competition-fee relationship, and examination of how country-level fees affect the competitionquality relationship, while controlling for country level factors. Results show a negative iv relationship between country-level market concentration and audit fees but only in highly litigious countries, suggesting that the firms are able to obtain economies of scale in more concentrated markets and are willing to pass savings down to their clients. However this relationship only holds for the clients of the Big N firms. Analysis of audit quality suggests that audit quality is higher in more concentrated markets but mediation analysis did not show that the fees mediate the relationship between audit quality and market concentration. The third study addresses current regulatory debate about the responsibility of the principal auditor in the group audit environment. Current United States standards allow the principal auditor to disavow responsibility for parts of the audit which were performed by a third party auditor by referencing them in the auditor’s opinion and then indicating the part of the audit which was performed by them. This disclaimer of responsibility is prohibited under the international auditing standards, which require the principal auditor to be responsible for the entire group audit. Specifically, this study examines 1) audit quality implications related to such opinions, and 2) the relationship between having a shared opinion and audit fees. The results show that the audit quality is significantly lower for the firms whose audit opinion referenced a third party auditor. The results also provide some evidence that audit fees are lower in shared responsibility situations.


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Graduation Date





Trompeter, Gregory


Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)


College of Business Administration


Dean's Office, Business Administration

Degree Program

Business Administration; Accounting








Release Date

August 2014

Length of Campus-only Access

1 year

Access Status

Doctoral Dissertation (Open Access)


Business Administration -- Dissertations, Academic, Dissertations, Academic -- Business Administration

Included in

Accounting Commons