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Ownership structure, board independence and auditor choice: evidence from GCC countries

Ownership structure, board independence and auditor choice: evidence from GCC countries This paper investigates the role of board independence in determining the relationship between firm ownership and auditor choice.Design/methodology/approachThe research uses a logistic regression to test the direct and indirect effects of ownership structure on the decision to hire a high-quality (Big 4) audit firm. The sample consists of 207 non-financial firms listed on the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries stock markets between 2009 and 2016.FindingsEmpirical findings show that family ownership is associated with a negative and significant coefficient suggesting that an increase in family ownership decreases the likelihood that the firm will employ a Big 4 auditor. This finding suggests that family owners are reluctant to impose external monitoring. Furthermore, we find a positive relationship between institutional ownership and auditor choice supporting the conjecture that institutional investors are more likely to choose a Big 4 auditor. The results also reveal that the effects of family and institutional ownership on auditor choice are partially mediated by independent directors.Practical implicationsThis study has important implications for GCC economies whose policymakers and regulators may need to address the conflict between controlling and non-controlling shareholders. It provides guidance for firms in the construction and implementation of their own corporate governance policies. Furthermore, the study findings may be useful to investors, assisting them in making better informed decisions and aids other interested parties in gaining a better understanding of the role played by ownership structure in the quality of auditors. Finally, the paper highlights the importance of the composition of the board of directors in increasing the likelihood of hiring a high-quality audit firm.Originality/valueThe main contribution of the present paper is to examine the board composition as a potential mediating variable between ownership structure and auditor choice. Moreover, it highlights the issue of improving governance mechanisms. http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Journal of Accounting in Emerging Economies Emerald Publishing

Ownership structure, board independence and auditor choice: evidence from GCC countries

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Publisher
Emerald Publishing
Copyright
© Emerald Publishing Limited
ISSN
2042-1168
DOI
10.1108/jaee-06-2020-0145
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

This paper investigates the role of board independence in determining the relationship between firm ownership and auditor choice.Design/methodology/approachThe research uses a logistic regression to test the direct and indirect effects of ownership structure on the decision to hire a high-quality (Big 4) audit firm. The sample consists of 207 non-financial firms listed on the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries stock markets between 2009 and 2016.FindingsEmpirical findings show that family ownership is associated with a negative and significant coefficient suggesting that an increase in family ownership decreases the likelihood that the firm will employ a Big 4 auditor. This finding suggests that family owners are reluctant to impose external monitoring. Furthermore, we find a positive relationship between institutional ownership and auditor choice supporting the conjecture that institutional investors are more likely to choose a Big 4 auditor. The results also reveal that the effects of family and institutional ownership on auditor choice are partially mediated by independent directors.Practical implicationsThis study has important implications for GCC economies whose policymakers and regulators may need to address the conflict between controlling and non-controlling shareholders. It provides guidance for firms in the construction and implementation of their own corporate governance policies. Furthermore, the study findings may be useful to investors, assisting them in making better informed decisions and aids other interested parties in gaining a better understanding of the role played by ownership structure in the quality of auditors. Finally, the paper highlights the importance of the composition of the board of directors in increasing the likelihood of hiring a high-quality audit firm.Originality/valueThe main contribution of the present paper is to examine the board composition as a potential mediating variable between ownership structure and auditor choice. Moreover, it highlights the issue of improving governance mechanisms.

Journal

Journal of Accounting in Emerging EconomiesEmerald Publishing

Published: Jan 11, 2022

Keywords: Auditor choice; Big 4; Ownership structure; Independent directors

References