Using a sample of public firms listed in the Chinese market for the years 2000–2009, we find that audit partners with more public clients are associated with lower audit quality, consistent with the “busyness” effect that auditing multiple clients dissipates audit partner effort and, thus, reduces audit quality. However, the negative association is more pronounced for auditors with short audit partner-client tenure, supporting the idea that the lack of client-specific knowledge exacerbates the busyness effect. Collectively, these findings contribute to a better understanding of audit partner behavior in an emerging market.

JEL Classifications: M42.

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