Auditing Section Research Summaries Space

A Database of Auditing Research - Building Bridges with Practice

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  • Jennifer M Mueller-Phillips
    The influence of director stock ownership and board...
    research summary posted September 16, 2015 by Jennifer M Mueller-Phillips, tagged 13.0 Governance, 13.04 Board/Audit Committee Compensation, 14.0 Corporate Matters, 14.01 Earnings Management, 14.11 Audit Committee Effectiveness 
    Title:
    The influence of director stock ownership and board discussion transparency on financial reporting quality.
    Practical Implications:

    Understanding why stock ownership can bias directors’ objectivity, and examining how board discussion transparency can yield differential effects for stock-owning and non-stock-owning directors makes it possible to anticipate the effects of increased board transparency on earnings management and directors’ decisions. The notion of increased board discussion transparency is valid in the current environment in which shareholders are pushing for “constituency board seats” because information leaks surrounding board discussions likely will result when constituent directors report back to their shareholder groups. Hence, if controversial boardroom discussions are eventually divulged to the public, the findings suggest that directors’ judgments and decisions will be influenced by knowledge of increased board transparency.

    Citation:

    Rose, J. M., C. R. Mazza, C. S. Norman, and A. M. Rose. 2013. The influence of director stock ownership and board discussion transparency on financial reporting quality. Accounting, Organizations & Society 38 (5): 397-405.

  • Jennifer M Mueller-Phillips
    Audit committee stock options and financial reporting...
    research summary posted July 30, 2015 by Jennifer M Mueller-Phillips, tagged 01.0 Standard Setting, 01.05 Impact of SOX, 13.0 Governance, 13.04 Board/Audit Committee Compensation 
    Title:
    Audit committee stock options and financial reporting quality after the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002.
    Practical Implications:

    This study contributes to existing literature by re-examining the relationship between audit committee compensation and financial reporting quality. The findings indicate the continuance of a negative relationship between audit committee members’ stock-option compensation and financial reporting quality in the post-SOX era. These results are relevant to regulators, compensation committees, and auditors because they imply that shifting audit committee director compensation away from stock options has the potential to improve financial reporting quality.

    Citation:

    Campbell, J. L., J. Hansen, C. A. Simon, and J. L. Smith. 2015. Audit Committee Stock Options and Financial Reporting Quality after the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002. AUDITING: A Journal of Practice & Theory 34 (2):91-120.

  • Jennifer M Mueller-Phillips
    Audit Committee Compensation, Fairness, and the Resolution...
    research summary last edited March 3, 2015 by Jennifer M Mueller-Phillips, tagged 13.0 Governance, 13.04 Board/Audit Committee Compensation 
    Title:
    Audit Committee Compensation, Fairness, and the Resolution of Accounting Disagreements
    Practical Implications:

    When selecting members of the audit committee, our results suggest the need for the nominating committee to pursue individuals who place great emphasis on issues of fairness to shareholders. Beyond such initial screening, one way to improve the quality of the financial reporting process could be to educate audit committee members to explicitly consider outcome fairness to shareholders of the financial statement presentation, especially in matters that involve ambiguous accounting issues. This education process should help to emphasize that audit committee members need to consider stakeholders, such as current and prospective shareholders, above the potentially parochial views of management. Moreover, regulatory bodies may consider emphasizing the nature of the monitoring role of the board and how examining decisions through the lens of fairness may enhance the ability of the board to fulfill its monitoring role in a more effective manner.

    For more information on this study, please contact Dana Hermanson.

    Citation:

    Bierstaker, J., J. Cohen, D. Hermanson, and T. DeZoort. 2012. Audit Committee Compensation, Fairness, and the Resolution of Accounting Disagreements. Auditing: A Journal of Practice & Theory 31 (2): 131-150.

  • Jennifer M Mueller-Phillips
    Corporate Governance Research in Accounting and Auditing:...
    research summary posted October 27, 2014 by Jennifer M Mueller-Phillips, tagged 13.0 Governance, 13.01 Board/Audit Committee Composition, 13.03 Board/Audit Committee Tenure, 13.04 Board/Audit Committee Compensation, 13.05 Board/Audit Committee Oversight, 13.06 Board/Audit Committee Processes 
    Title:
    Corporate Governance Research in Accounting and Auditing: Insights, Practice Implications, and Future Research Directions
    Practical Implications:

    First, the weight of evidence suggests that weak governance is associated with an increased likelihood of adverse financial reporting outcomes (in particular, fraud and restatements). Thus, perhaps the most fundamental practice implication is that the governance research findings to date are, on an overall basis, consistent with the focus on improved corporate governance (e.g., board independence, audit committee expertise) found in SOX and related regulatory reforms.

    Second, since the board and the audit committee are primary mechanisms for the internal monitoring of top management’s financial reporting behavior, and given that the CEO and/or CFO is involved in 89 percent of all public company accounting frauds (Beasley et al. 2010), external auditors need to very carefully examine corporate governance characteristics and processes in assessing the control environment.

    Third, research finds that auditor changes/dismissals are less problematic in the presence of good governance. That is, in the presence of good governance, the auditor change/dismissal may be justified by poor auditor performance or excessive fees. Since regulators do not have the resources to examine all auditor changes, even if limited to dismissals, regulators might want to consider the client firm’s governance characteristics when deciding whether to investigate an auditor dismissal.

    Fourth, research indicates that external auditors assess risk higher and plan more audit hours for firms with weak governance. However, whether auditors adequately adjust for weak governance has not been examined. In other words, adjustments of risk assessments and audit hours occur, but is there enough adjustment in light of the higher risk?

    Fifth, strong governance and strong auditing appear to be complements rather than substitutes—stronger boards and audit committees are associated with stronger auditing. Therefore, monitoring (both internal monitoring by the board and audit committee, and external monitoring by the auditor) is likely to be especially weak in firms with weak governance, for the quality of auditing is likely to be lower in the presence of weak governance.

    Sixth, a number of studies have demonstrated the importance of audit committee accounting expertise, as well as auditing expertise and industry expertise. Firms should strive to appoint audit committee members with specific accounting and auditing expertise given their apparently greater effectiveness and the positive stock market reaction to the appointment of accounting experts.

    Seventh, a growing line of research indicates that audit committee compensation methods can influence audit committee members’ judgments, and audit committee compensation methods are associated with the risk of restatement and with the handling of auditor adjustments. We encourage auditors, analysts, and shareholders to be cognizant of the potential risks involved if audit committee members are compensated primarily with short-term, incentive-based pay.

    Eighth, some audit committees appear to take their monitoring roles seriously, while others appear to be primarily ceremonial in nature. Auditors are in a unique position to evaluate the effectiveness of the audit committee process. Auditors should explicitly evaluate the effectiveness of the audit committee’s processes, and adjust their risk assessments, budgeted hours, and the nature, extent, and timing of audit testing, especially if effective audit committee processes seem to be attenuated by the intervention of a dominant CEO.

    Finally, given the severe reputational damage experienced by directors, especially audit committee members, in cases of financial reporting failures, and given the difficulty of monitoring a large entity on a part-time basis, audit committees might want to consider retaining permanent staff or consultants to the audit committee.

    For more information on this study, please contact Dana Hermanson.

    Citation:

    Carcello J. V., D. R. Hermanson, and Z. Ye. 2011. Corporate Governance Research in Accounting and Auditing: Insights, Practice Implications, and Future Research Directions. Auditing: A Journal of Practice & Theory 30 (3): 1-31. 

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