Audit research in the wake of SOX

W.R. Knechel*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review



- The purpose of this paper is to summarize the effect that the passage of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002 (SOX) by the US Congress had on audit research. More specifically, the paper compares the nature of research about auditing conducted before the Act’s passage to the nature of research about audit regulation that dominates the literature since its passage.


- The paper builds on an extensive review of the research literature before and after the passage of SOX to suggest and examine potential future research paths that might develop in auditing. The streams of research are linked and organized around four themes: auditing as a competitive process, auditing as a service process, auditing as a production process and auditing as a quality control process.


- In general, auditing research prior to SOX tended to focus on issues encountered in the practice of auditing with tangential implications for audit regulation. The passage of SOX had the effect of focusing audit research on the nature, costs and benefits of regulation, particularly the components of the law that had the most effect on auditing such as the prohibition against many non-audit services, the establishment of the Public Company Accounting Oversight Board as a standard setter that also inspects audit firms, and the introduction of the requirement that a client’s internal control over financial reporting be examined and opined upon as part of an integrated audit. Although this research has increased our understanding of auditing and regulation, the heavy focus on SOX has pushed research about auditing itself to a lesser role. The profession’s, academy’s and regulatory understanding of auditing may benefit from a more balanced approach to auditing as something separate from the regulation of auditing.


- The intent of this paper is to challenge the way researchers think about research questions in auditing. Hopefully, this approach will encourage auditing researchers to look at the audit and audit regulation through a new lens, testing propositions and aspects of auditing that have been overlooked by the dominate focus on audit regulation over the past decade.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)706-726
Number of pages21
JournalManagerial Auditing Journal
Issue number8/9
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2015


  • Audit quality
  • SOX
  • Audit regulation
  • FEES
  • FIRM

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