The relationship between auditor tenure and audit quality implied by going concern opinions

A. Vanstraelen, W.R. Knechel*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


The debate continues about the relationship between auditor tenure and audit quality in spite of extensive empirical evidence examining audit failures, earnings management, and the issuance of auditor's opinions. Most recent evidence suggests that long auditor tenure does not have a negative impact on audit quality. However, most of the available evidence has been accumulated based on publicly listed companies in the U.S. We examine the effect of auditor tenure on audit quality for private companies in Belgium, an environment where we believe auditor tenure is more likely to have a negative effect on audit quality. We use the likelihood of an auditor issuing a going concern opinion as an indicator of audit quality. Using a sample of stressed bankrupt companies, and stressed nonbankrupt companies, the results indicate that auditors do not become less independent over time nor do they become better at predicting bankruptcy. In balance, the evidence for tenure either increasing or decreasing quality is weak.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)113-131
JournalAuditing-a Journal of Practice & Theory
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2007

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