SYNOPSIS: The increase of Big 4 auditor resignations in the newly regulated auditing environment creates a rich setting to examine the supply-side effects of auditor industry specialization. The authors estimate logistic regressions to examine whether audit firms consider industry specialization at both the local and national levels when deciding on whether to retain or resign from audit clients. The results show a negative relation between auditor industry specialization and auditor resignations when the auditor is a joint specialist (i.e., a specialist at both the national and local levels) and when the auditor is a local specialist only (i.e., a local specialist but not a national specialist). The national specialization alone variable (i.e., the auditor is a national specialist but not a local specialist) is not significant for our primary analysis; however, additional analyses reveal that the significance of this variable varies when incorporating alternative measurements for auditor specialization in the models. Thus, the overall evidence of the national specialization effect on the auditor’s resignation decision is mixed and inconclusive at this point. Based on the additional analyses, the joint and the local specialization effects generally appear to be robust. As such, we conclude that auditors perceive their firms’ industry expertise, particularly at the local level, as reducing both clientele mismatch and litigation risks, and hence improving audit quality.

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