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Readability of auditor reports: does audit market competition matter? Empirical evidence from Iran

Julkaisun tekijätRajabalizadeh Javad



JournalAsian review of accounting

Lehden akronyymiARA




Lopetussivun numero28



Rinnakkaistallenteen osoite


Purpose – While existing research explores the impact of audit market competition on audit fees and audit quality, there is limited investigation into how competition in the audit market influences auditors’ writing style. This study examines the relationship between audit market competition and the readability of audit reports in Iran, where competition is particularly intense, especially among private audit firms.

Design/methodology/approach – The sample comprises 1,050 firm-year observations in Iran from 2012 to 2018. Readability measures, including the Fog index, Flesch-Reading-Ease (FRE) and Simple Measure of Gobbledygook (SMOG), are employed to assess the readability of auditors’ reports. The Herfindahl–Hirschman Index (HHI) is utilized to measure audit market competition, with lower index values indicating higher auditor competition. The concentration measure is multiplied by - 1 to obtain the competition measure (AudComp). Alternative readability measures, such as the Flesch–Kincaid (FK) and Automated Readability Index (ARI) are used in additional robustness tests. Data on textual features of audit reports, auditor characteristics and other control variables are manually collected from annual reports of firms listed on the Tehran Stock Exchange (TSE).

Findings – The regression analysis results indicate a significant and positive association between audit market competition and audit report readability. Furthermore, a stronger positive and significant association is observed among private audit firms, where competition is more intense compared to state audit firms. These findings remain robust when using alternative readability measures and other sensitivity checks. Additional analysis reveals that the positive effect of competition on audit report readability is more pronounced in situations where the auditor remains unchanged and the audit market size is small.

Originality/value – This paper expands the existing literature by examining the impact of audit market competition on audit report readability. It focuses on a unique audit market (Iran), where competition among audit firms is more intense than in developed countries due to the liberalization of the Iranian audit market in 2001 and the establishment of numerous private audit firms.

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Last updated on 2024-08-02 at 07:31