We expand upon the traditional market share-based measure of industry specialization by auditors to address the following question: Are industry specialist auditors who obtain their market share by auditing varying proportions of clients in an industry similar in terms of product (audit) quality and price (audit fees)? Our analyses suggest that the audit market is characterized by a type of segmentation in which some specialists pursue product differentiation strategies, focusing more extensively on the acquisition of requisite expertise, while others pursue cost minimization strategies, producing lower cost, lower quality audits. We find that audit fees and quality are higher (lower) when the specialist gains significant market share by auditing a low (high) proportion of clients in that industry. Our evidence suggests that specialists pursue different strategies in different settings. In some cases, specialist auditors may actually be low-end producers, raising a question of whether the “specialist” label is even appropriate.

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