Going-concern opinions, auditor switching, and the self-fulfilling prophecy effect examined in the regulatory context of Belgium

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Previous studies have demonstrated that auditors are reluctant to issue going-concern opinions. Some suggest this reluctance is strategic and stems from the auditor's desire to avoid loss of clients or reputation. This paper investigates the threat of loss resulting from auditor switching and client bankruptcy in the regulatory context of belgium. Belgium requires companies to engage an audit firm for a three-year period. Consequently, the client's threat of switching auditors is potentially more credible in the third year than in the first two years.the empirical results support the hypothesis that going-concern opinions significantly increase the probability of bankruptcy. Thus, going-concern reports remain relevant even in a country where debt financing is dominant. In addition, clients are four times more likely to switch auditors at the end of the mandatory term if they receive a going-concern opinion in the final year of the term relative to the previous two years. This strongly suggests that mandatory terms influence the association between going-concern opinions and auditor switching.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)231-253
JournalJournal of Accounting, Auditing & Finance
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2003

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