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The relationship between shareholder protection through regulation and the demand for external auditor services

Ola Nilsson ()
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Ola Nilsson: Linnaeus University

International Journal of Disclosure and Governance, 2018, vol. 15, issue 3, 162-175

Abstract: Abstract Auditing is one of the most obvious corporate governance mechanisms, and auditors play one of the most central gatekeeping roles in the corporate governance system. The auditing function has typically been examined as if it is essentially independent of the legal context in which it is applied. However, some studies emphasize that the auditor’s governance role is likely dependent on the national corporate governance system in which an auditor operates. One area that has received attention is how the legal environment, including the strength of shareholder protection regulations, affects the demand for auditing. However, entirely contradictory understandings of this relationship can be derived from the literature: that these two mechanisms act as substitutes and that they act as complements. A potential explanation for this discrepancy is that prior studies use static measures of regulations as proxies for shareholder protections and proxies for auditing service demand that have been criticized for being too rough. By using the Shareholder Protection Index developed by the Centre for Business Research at Cambridge and four measures capturing nuances of auditing service demand, this study makes a novel contribution to this line of research. By using data from two countries, the UK and Sweden, that belong to different legal traditions, the analysis also tests whether this aspect has any impact on the relationship between shareholder protections and auditor demand. The analysis shows that the demand for auditor services in general is positively correlated with the level of shareholder protection imposed by regulations, i.e., these two corporate governance mechanisms are compliments. There is no support for the argument that a country’s legal origin affects this relationship. The general interpretation is that the level of shareholder protections imposed by regulations will drive the demand for auditor services and that this is the case irrespective of a country’s legal origin. This study provides in-depth knowledge on the relationship between the legal environment and the demand for auditing, offers valuable information about the impact and consequences of legal reforms and is therefore especially valuable for policymakers and academics interested in this topic.

Keywords: Auditing; Shareholder protection; Corporate governance (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2018
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