An empirical comparison of non-Big 4 and Big 4 auditors’ perceptions of auditor independence
Philip Law
Source PublicationManagerial Auditing Journal
ABS Journal Level2

Purpose – Perceived independence is one of the corner-stones in auditing theory. Despite prior research on auditor independence, the results are inconclusive. The lack of research in the Hong Kong auditing environment motivates this study, particularly following the Enron de´baˆcle. The purpose of this paper is to examine the non-audit services (NASs), competition, rank and types of auditors, in respect of the independence problem as it relates to the practices of Hong Kong auditors in the post-Enron environment.

Design/methodology/approach – Four independent variables identified from literature gaps are examined, namely NASs, levels of competition, auditors of different ranks and types of auditors. Mixed ANOVA are employed to analyze survey responses from 207 “Big 4” and 185 “non-Big 4” auditors.

Findings – Results of the study show that the provisions of NASs and high competition could have a negative influence on auditors’ perceptions of independence. Second, auditors’ perceptions that the influence of NASs on independence depends on an individual auditor’s rank are supported. Senior managers have the highest mean rating on perceptions, while partners have the lowest mean rating. Results support the agency theory that the agent (senior manager) may not always act in the best interests for the principal. Finally, there is no difference between Big 4 and non-Big 4 auditors’ perceptions of the influence of NASs and competition on independence.

Originality/value – The study revokes earlier US research that indicates that NASs provisions favorably influence auditors’ perceptions of independence. It would be advantageous for a regulatory body to reconsider professional reforms such as prohibitions of NASs and the repercussions of non compliance of independence

KeywordAuditors Auditing Competitive Strategy Hong Kong
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Document TypeJournal article
Corresponding AuthorPhilip Law
AffiliationDepartment of Accounting, Faculty of Business Administration, University of Macau, Taipa, Macau
First Author AffilicationFaculty of Business Administration
Corresponding Author AffilicationFaculty of Business Administration
Recommended Citation
GB/T 7714
Philip Law. An empirical comparison of non-Big 4 and Big 4 auditors’ perceptions of auditor independence[J]. Managerial Auditing Journal,2008,23(9):917-934.
APA Philip Law.(2008).An empirical comparison of non-Big 4 and Big 4 auditors’ perceptions of auditor independence.Managerial Auditing Journal,23(9),917-934.
MLA Philip Law."An empirical comparison of non-Big 4 and Big 4 auditors’ perceptions of auditor independence".Managerial Auditing Journal 23.9(2008):917-934.
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