Purpose: The authors aim to exploit a natural experment in which voluntary replace mandatory joint audits for Danish listed companies and analyse audit fee implications of using one or two audit firms. Design/methodology/approach: Regression analysis is used. The authors apply both a core audit fee determinants model and an audit fee change model and include interaction terms. Findings: The authors find short-term fee reductions in companies switching to single audits, but only where the former joint audit contained a dominant auditor. The authors argue that in this situation bargaining power is more with the auditors than in a equally shared joint audit, and that the auditors' incentives to offer an initial fee discount are bigger. Research limitations/implications: The number of observations is constrained by the small Danish capital market. Future research could take a more qualitative research approach, to examine whether the use of a single audit firm rather than two has an effect on audit quality. The area calls for further theory development covering audit fee and audit quality in joint audit settings. Practical implications: Comapnies should consider their relationship with their auditors before deciding to switch to single auditors. Fee discounts do not seem to reflect long-lasting efficiency gains on the part of the audit firm. Orginality/value: Denmark is the first country to leave a mandatory joint audit system, so this is the first time that it is possible to study fee effects related to this.
Managerial Auditing Journal, 2014, Vol 29, Issue 2, p. 131-152