Due to the Global Financial Crisis (GFC), corporate collapses, accounting scandals and the concerns around audit market competition and auditor choice, both Europe and the UK reformed their corporate governance and audit regimes. Key UK and European audit reforms include the extended auditors’ report, disclosures of materiality thresholds, bans or restrictions on non-audit services, viability statements by management, more powers for audit committees and mandatory firm rotation by auditors.
Evidence is still limited on the impacts of these audit reforms on European auditors, especially with respect to the regulatory, economic and cultural differences amongst European countries. The aim of the project is to undertake a comparative analysis of how the more recent advanced UK audit reforms and the Italian reforms (driven by the EU Audit Directive) have impacted external financial statement auditors and other key stakeholders in the market for audit and assurance services (such as regulators and auditees).
This study compares the differential impacts of these reforms on the managerial and organizational practices of larger and smaller audit practitioners in the UK and Italy. The UK and Italy are purposively selected as representing two very different institutional settings, that will offer insights on how the efforts of standardizing audit regulation may lead to very different organisational responses within Europe. The study relies on New Institutional Sociology as theoretical framework of reference and is performed through focus groups and one-to-one interviews with Big Four and non-Big Four audit partners, financial markets regulators, and audit committee members.
By considering the views of auditors and other key stakeholders, this research will contribute to the auditing literature and assist policy makers and professional accounting bodies in assessing the impact of regulatory interventions on auditor behaviour and practice.