This study investigates the role of business risk perspectives in the audit of smaller and medium-sized entities (SMEs) by small and medium-sized audit practices (SMPs). The research is important, since we have little knowledge of how SMPs utilize business risk factors, and there is a current debate about the need for proportionally applying auditing standards, including standards on business risks, in the audit of SMEs. We conduct 38 interviews with Dutch and German auditors of both small and medium-sized audit practices to capture a variety of different audit environments. We develop a model that considers a continuum of audit approaches ranging from a substantive-based audit approach to a full-scope business risk audit, and observe a limited and heterogeneous application of business risk perspectives by SMP auditors. We find that client complexity, enforcement by audit supervisory authorities, relative emphasis on book-tax alignment in different countries, and investments in audit technology are important factors explaining the use of business risk perspectives. The findings imply a need to provide auditors with sufficient flexibility to proportionally adjust their audit approaches in the application of international audit standards under varying client and audit firm conditions.

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