Individual Auditor Social Responsibility and Audit Quality: Evidence from China

Journal of Business Ethics:1-26 (forthcoming)
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Abstract

Capitalizing on a unique setting in China where auditors disclose their prosocial activities, we examine the role that auditor social responsibility plays in shaping their performance. In one direction, behavior consistency theory implies that individual auditors exhibiting more social commitment in their off-the-job activities behave similarly during engagements, enhancing the quality of their audits. In the other direction, accounting firms’ internal structures along with external disciplinary forces mute the impact of heterogeneous auditor characteristics on their performance. In a staggered difference-in-differences design, we report a significant fall in the magnitude of companies’ discretionary accruals and the incidence of financial reporting irregularities after their auditors begin contributing to social welfare, relative to companies whose auditors refrain from contributing during the same timeframe. Additional evidence implies that the higher audit quality stems from auditors better protecting their independence and improving their competence in the post-contribution period. Collectively, our results provide insights into the importance of auditors’ prosocial attitudes to their external monitoring.

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