This paper examines the market for audit services when the incumbent auditor of an SEC registrant has resigned from the engagement. While many previous studies of auditor changes have examined auditor dismissals by the client, only a few studies have specifically focused on auditor resignations. Auditor resignations constitute a unique setting because they may indicate increased likelihood of possible future losses to the new auditor, and provide an opportunity to test the demand‐and‐supply side incentives in the market for audit services.

Results from analyses of 156 auditor resignations and a control sample of 375 auditor dismissals indicate that Big 6 firms were less likely to serve as the successor auditor when the predecessor has resigned, after controlling for three other factors identified as proxies for litigation risk to the auditor (client's financial stress, industry membership and proportion of total assets in receivables and inventory). The effects were especially pronounced for the subset of resignees in financial stress. These results support suggestions that the implications of auditor resignations are different from auditor dismissals, and provide supporting evidence for the suggestions that supply‐side incentives should be considered in examining the market for audit services.

This content is only available via PDF.
You do not currently have access to this content.