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This study examines whether there is an association between the length of the client-auditor relationship and audit quality, using absolute unexpected accruals estimated by industry as a measure of audit quality based on a modified Jones model. The study is motivated by the proposal on mandatory audit firm rotation for publicly traded companies from the European Commission, which is based on the notion that longer auditor firm tenure creates a familiarity threat which reduces the audit quality. Both the relation between audit quality and auditor partner tenure and audit firm tenure is examined in this study, using multivariate regression controlling for auditor type (Big 4 versus non-Big 4), signing auditors (one versus two auditors), firm size, profitability, leverage and age. There is a significant negative relationship between audit quality and audit partner tenure when only companies employing Big 4 is tested, which indicate that auditors constrain managements extreme accounting measures with longer tenure. The results provide no significant evidence of an increase in the absolute unexpected accruals with audit firm tenure, when only Big 4 companies are tested. The results also overall suggest that the audit quality is lower for shorter tenure relative to longer tenure, which is consistent with previous studies. The results of this study therefore implies that under the current regime with no obligation of firm rotation, longer audit tenure is on average associated with auditors in greater extent constraining managements extreme accounting choices. The results therefore do not support the call for mandatory rotation. However, the majority of the regression results were not statistically significant, which limits the possibility to apply these results to a population outside the scope of this study.
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