Scientific articles

Consequences of the Abandonment of Mandatory Joint Audit: An Empirical Study of Audit Costs and Audit Quality Effects


European Accounting Review


Departments: Accounting & Management Control, GREGHEC (CNRS)

Keywords: Joint audit, Audit cost, Audit quality, Audit market, Denmark

This paper focuses on the unique Danish setting in examining the consequences of abandoning a mandatory joint audit regime. We study the effects on audit costs (measured by audit fees) and audit quality (measured by abnormal accruals) of the abandonment of the mandatory joint audit in Denmark in 2005. We perform our analysis on non-financial listed Danish companies for the 2002–2010 period. Our results show that a joint audit is associated with higher fees, but that the association between joint audit and abnormal accruals is insignificant. This suggests that the higher audit fees cannot be explained by higher audit quality. Our results are robust to alternative measurements of fees and audit quality. Additional analyses show that the fee premium related to a joint audit decreases over time and that the Big 4 concentration in our sample has increased since the switch from mandatory to voluntary joint audit. Our results are consistent with the motivations driving the regulatory change in Denmark and are of interest to regulators and actors in the audit market

Constructing, Contesting, and Overloading: A Study of Risk Management Framing


European Accounting Review


Departments: Accounting & Management Control, GREGHEC (CNRS)

In this study, we examine the ways in which actuarial consultants attempt to motivate their clients to see pension-related accounting regulations and market volatility as ‘risks’ that need to be managed through particular risk-mitigating technologies. This study is predicated on 23 interviews conducted with actuarial consultants and their clients and consulting agencies’ publically available documents. Taking framing theory and the sociological literature on risk as conceptual starting points, we find that consultants engage in specific framing strategies to persuade clients by rhetorically weaving a series of financial risk objects, financial de-risking strategies, and calls for action. We also find that current and prospective clients sometimes contest consultants’ prescriptions, despite the pervasiveness of risk management as the ultima ratio of organizational governance. This contestation occurs, ironically, because adopting de-risking solutions in one area is perceived by some clients as triggering new risks in areas unforeseen by consultants. This research increases our knowledge of how new risk objects and de-risking solutions come into existence and why some risk management practices fail to be diffused within organizations despite the staggering success of the risk management rationality. We explain the latter through the concepts of frame diffraction and overload

Examining the patterns of goodwill impairments in Europe and the US


Accounting in Europe


Departments: Accounting & Management Control, GREGHEC (CNRS)

Keywords: Goodwill, Impairment, IFRS 3, IAS 36, Europe, US

We examine the patterns of goodwill impairments in Europe and in the US over the period from 2006 to 2015, for a sample of more than 35,000 firm-year observations. We define the timeliness of goodwill impairments as the frequency of accounting impairments conditional to indications of economic impairments. We measure indications of economic impairment with three metrics: equity market value minus equity book value less than goodwill, market-to-book smaller than one, and negative EBITDA. Our research strategy leads us to draw very different conclusions than those in the recent EFRAG (2016) study. While median levels of goodwill on the books between US and European firms are relatively similar, we find several indications that US firms recognize timelier impairments, at least during 2008 and 2009, i.e., the early years of the financial crisis. We further document that US impairers write down a much greater percentage of their beginning balance of goodwill than European impairers. During the financial crisis, the median level of impairment by US firms was 63% of opening goodwill in 2008 and 40% in 2009, whereas median European write-downs were only 6% and 7% of goodwill, respectively. Even though European firms are more likely to impair over multiple years, the cumulative impairments never come close to the level of US firms, be it in a single year or cumulative over multiple years. We also find that the frequency of accounting impairment is small compared to the number of firms presenting evidence of economic impairment: only 20 to 25% of firms recognize impairments depending on the measure of economic impairment. This has often been interpreted by academics as a sign of untimely write-offs. Accounting differences between US GAAP and IFRS are unlikely to explain our results. One caveat of our analysis is that it does not allow us to draw conclusions on whether the observed differences between US and European firms are driven by differences in conditional conservatism and/or big bath accounting practices

Non-additivity in accounting valuation: Theory and applications




Departments: Accounting & Management Control, GREGHEC (CNRS)

The Relationship between Lack of Controllability and Proactive Work Behaviour: An Empirical Analysis of Competing Theoretical Explanations


Accounting and Business Research


Departments: Accounting & Management Control, GREGHEC (CNRS)

Keywords: controllability principle, management control systems, role theory, role conflict, flexible role orientation, proactive work behaviour

The controllability principle suggests evaluating managers solely based on performance measures they can control. In practice, however, companies often disregard this principle. Therefore, our study addresses organisational benefits linked to the lack of controllability in measures used for managers’ performance evaluations. We draw on important case-based findings to establish a positive ‘base relationship’ between lack of controllability and proactive work behaviour. We test this base relationship with a large-scale sample and find that companies encourage higher levels of proactive work behaviour when they rely on less controllable performance measures. Drawing on recent developments in role theory, we advance previous research and extend the base model by including the theoretical construct of flexible role orientation. We examine different mechanisms through which flexible role orientation potentially impacts the base model. Using survey responses from 432 managers, we find evidence for a mediation model as opposed to an interaction model. Specifically, we find that lack of controllability enhances role conflict, which in turn induces more flexible role orientations ultimately resulting in higher levels of proactive work behaviour

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