Audit Quality and Real Earnings Management: An Analysis Based on the Auditor Industry Specialization and Client Importance

Document Type: Original Research


1 Accounting Department, Faculty of Economic, Universitas Satya Negara, Indonesia

2 Department of Accounting, Atma Jaya Catholic University of Indonesia, Jakarta, Indonesia

3 Accounting Department, Faculty of Economic and Business, Universitas Katholik Indonesia Atma Jaya, Indonesia


Real earnings management reflects management intervention to manipulate earnings based on the company's normal business activities. This intervention is veiled and difficult to detect so it requires specialist auditors who expertise in industrial business practices. In the agency theory, the quality auditors representing external governance serves to reduce asymmetric information between management and shareholders and minimize agency costs. Auditor quality is determined by the auditor's ability and independence to detect abnormal business practices. Industry specialization auditors have the competence, expertise, and skills to find out whether or not there are abnormal business practices for the purpose of earnings manipulation. Meanwhile, client importance that reflects the level of economic dependence of the auditor on the client encourages the auditor to be ignorant or tolerant of manipulation of business activities for the purpose of management opportunism. This research was conducted on manufacturing and trading companies listed on the Indonesia Stock Exchange in the 2012-2016 period. Observation is carried out on 430 data and analysis by multiple linear regression. The test results prove that the auditors of industrial specialization have a negative effect on real earnings management. Client importance also proved to have a positive effect on real earnings management.


Alzoubi, E. (2017). Audit quality, debt financing, and earnings management: Evidence from Jordan. Journal of International Accounting Auditing and Taxation, 11(1), 51-76.
Anagnostopoulou, S.C., Tsekrekos, A.E. (2016), The effect of financial leverage on real and accrual-based earnings management. Accounting and Business Research, 47(2), 191-236.
Antle, R., Gordon, E. A., Narayanamoorthy, G., and Zhou, L. (2006). The joint determination of audit fees, non-audit fees, and abnormal accruals. Review of Quantitative Finance and Accounting, 27, 235–266. doi:10.1007/s11156-006-9430-y
Balsam, S., Krishnan, J., and Yang, J.S. (2003). Auditor Industry Specialization and Earnings Quality. Auditing: A Journal of Practice and Theory, 22(2), 71-97
Barton, J., and Simko, P. (2002). The balance sheet as an earnings management. The Accounting Review, 77, 1-27.
Brandon, D., and Muller, JM. (2006). The influence of client importance on juror evaluations of auditor liability. Behavioral Research in Accounting, 18, 1-18.
Carcello, V. Joseph, and Nagy, A.L. (2004). “Client Size Specialization and Earning Quality”. Auditing: A Journal of Practice and Theory.Vol. 19.Iss: 5, pp. 651-668.
Chen, S., Sun, S. and Wu, D. (2010). Client importance, institutional improvements, and audit quality in china: An office and individual auditor level analysis. The Accounting Review, 85(1), 127-58
Chi, W., Lisic, L. L., and Pevzner, M. (2011). Is Enhanced Audit Quality Associated with Greater Real Earnings Management? Accounting Horizons, 25(2), 315-335.
Chou, Y.Y., and Chan, M.L. (2018). The Impact of CEO Characteristics on Real Earnings Management: Evidence from the US Banking Industry. Journal of Applied Finance and Banking, 8(2), 17-44.
Cohen, D. A.; Dey, A; and Lys, T.Z. (2008). Real and accrual-based earnings management in the pre- and post-Sarbanes-Oxley Period. The Accounting Review, 83(3), 757-787.
Cohen, D.A., and Lys, T.Z. (2006), weighing the evidence on the relation between external corporate financing activities, accruals and stock returns. Journal of Accounting and Economics, 42(1-2), 87-105.
Cohen, D.A., and Zarowin, P. (2010). Accrual-based and real earnings management activities around seasoned equity offerings. Journal of Accounting and Economics, 50(1), 2-19.
DeAngelo, L. (1981). Auditor size and audit quality. Journal of Accounting and Economics, 3(3), 189-99.
DeFond, M. L., Raghunandan, K., and Subramanyam, K. R. (2002). Do non-audit service fees impair auditor independence? Evidence from going concern audit opinions. Journal of Accounting Research, 40, 1247-1274
Dunn, K. A., and Mayhew, B. W. (2004). Audit firm industry specialization and client disclosure quality. Review of Accounting Studies, 9, 35-58.
Francis, J., and Yu, M. (2009). The effects of big four office size on audit quality. The Accounting Review, 84(5), 1521-1552.
Frankel, R. M., Johnson, M. F., and Nelson, K. K. (2002). The relation between auditors’ fees for nonaudit services and earnings management. The Accounting Review, 77(s–1), (Supplement), 71–106. doi:10.2308/accr.2002.77.s-1.107
Graham, J. R. (2005). The Economic Implications of Corporate Financial Reporting. Journal of Accounting and Economics, 40(1-3), 3-73.
Greiner, A. J. (2017), 'An examination of real activities management and corporate cash holdings’, Advances in Accounting, 39, 79-90
Gul, F.A., Fung, S.Y.K., Jaggi, B. (2009). Earnings quality: Some evidence on the role of auditor tenure and auditors’ industry expertise. Journal of Accounting and Economics, 47(3), 265-287.
Gupta, M., Pevzner , M., and Seethamraju, C. (2010). Implications of absorption costing for future firm performance and valuation. Contemporary Accounting Research, 27 (3), 889–922.
Havasi, R., and Darabi, R. (2016). The effect of auditor’s industry specialization on the quality of financial reporting of the listed companies in tehran stock exchange. Asian Social Science, 12(8), 92-103.
Healy, P. M. Wahlen, J. M. (1999). A Review of the Earnings Management Literature and its Implications for Standard Setting. Accounting Horizons, 13, 365-383.
Hegazy, M., Al Sabagh, A., and Hamdy, R. (2015). The effect of audit firm specialization on earnings management and quality of audit work. Journal of Accounting and Finance, 15(4), 143-165.
Jaggi, B., Gul, F.A., and Lau, T.S. (2012). Auditor industry specialization, political economy and earnings quality: Some cross-country evidence. Journal of International Financial Management and Accounting, 23(1), 23-61.
Järvinen, T., and Myllymäki, E.-R. 2016 Real Earnings Management before and after Reporting SOX 404 Material Weaknesses. Accounting Horizons, 30(1), 119-141.
Jorjani, M., and Gerayeli, M.S. (2018). Auditor tenure and stock price volatility: The moderating role of auditor industry specialization. Australasian Accounting, Business and Finance Journal, 12(1), 65-76.
Kend, M. (2008). Client industry audit expertise: Towards a better understanding. Pacific Accounting Review, 20(1), 49-62
Kerler, W. A. III, and D. M. Brandon. 2010. The effects of trust, client importance, and goal commitment on auditors’ acceptance of client-preferred methods. Advances in Accounting, 26, 246–258.
Khanh, H., and Khuong, N. (2018). Audit Quality, Firm Characteristics and Real Earnings. International Journal of Economics and Financial Issues, 8(4), 243-249.
Krishnan, G.V. (2003). Audit quality and the pricing of discretionary accruals. Auditing: A Journal of Practice and Theory, 22(1), 109-126.
Kwon, S. Y., Sohn, S. K., and Lee, E. C. (2004). Effect of non-audit service on the auditor’s independence. Korean Accounting Review, 29(2), 249–280.
Larcker, D. F., and Richardson, S. A. (2004). Fee paid to audit firms, accrual choices, and corporate governance. Journal of Accounting Research, 42, 625–658. doi:10.1016/j. jacceco.2004.11.002
Lim, C. and Tan H. (2008). Non-audit service fees and audit quality: The impact of auditor specialization, Journal of Accounting Research, 46 (1), 199–246.
Lin, Yu-Cheng; Lu,Yu-Hsin; Lin, Fang-Chi; Lu,  Yi-Chen (2017) Net Losses and the Relationship between Auditor Independence and Client Importance: Evidence from a Cubist Regression-Tree Model Journal of Emerging Technologies in Accounting 14(1)
Mayhew, B., and Wilkins, M. (2003). Audit firm industry specialization as a Review of Integrative differentiation strategy: Evidence from fees charged to firms going public, Auditing: A Journal of Practice and Theory, 22(2), 33–52.
Muzatko, S. and Teclezion, M. (2016).  The Relationship between Audit Fees and Earnings Quality of Financial Institutions. Journal of Accounting and Finance, 16(5), 20-31
Okolie, A. O.  (2014) Audit Quality and Earnings Response Coefficients of Quoted Companies in Nigeria, Journal of Applied Finance and Banking, 4(2), 139-161
Owhoso, V.E., Messier, W.F., and Lynch, J. (2002). Error detection by industry-specialized teams during the sequential audit review. Journal of Accounting, 40(3), 883-900.
Park, B.-J. (2015). Client importance and earnings quality: an analysis of the moderating effect of managerial incentives for target beating versus auditors’ incentives to avoid reputational losses and litigation. Spanish Journal of Finance and Accounting, 44(4), 427–457. doi:
Reynolds, J. K., and Francis, J. R. (2000). Does size matter? the influence of large clients on office level auditor reporting decisions. Journal of Accounting and Economics, 30(3), 375-400.
Romanus, Robin N., Maher, John J., and Fleming, Damon M. (2008). Auditor industry specialization, auditor changes, and accounting restatements. Accounting Horizons, 22(4), 389-413.
Roychowdhury, S. (2006). Earnings management through real activities manipulation. Journal of Accounting and Economics, 42(3), 335-370.
Rusmin, R. (2010). Auditor quality and earnings management: Singaporean evidence. Managerial Auditing Journal, 25, 618-638.
Sharma, V.D, Sharma, D.S, and Ananthanarayanan, U. (2011) Client Importance and Earnings Management: The Moderating Role of Audit Committees. Auditing: A Journal of Practice and Theory, 30(3), 125-156.
Solomon, I., Shields, M., and Whittington, O. (1999). What do industry-specialist auditors know? Journal of Accounting Research, 37, 191-208
Sun, J. And Liu, G. (2012). Auditor industry specialization, board governance, and earnings management, Managerial Auditing Journal, 28(1), 45-64, 
Sun, J., Lan, G., and Guoping, L. (2014). Independent audit committee characteristics and real earnings management. Managerial Auditing Journal, 29(2), 153-172.
Tepalagul, N., and Lin, L. (2015). Auditor Independence and Audit Quality: A Literature Review. Journal of Accounting, Auditing and Finance, 30(1), 101–121.
Xie, B., Davidson, W. and Da Dalt, P. (2003). Earnings Management and Corporate Governance: The Role of the Board and the Audit Committee, Journal of Corporate Finance, 9 (3), 295-316.
Yasser, S. and Soliman, M. (2018). The Effect of Audit Quality on Earnings Management in Developing Countries: The Case of EgyptInternational Research Journal of Applied Finance, 4, 216-231
Zgarni, I., Hlioui, K., and and Zehri, F. (2016). Effective audit committee, audit quality and earnings management Evidence from Tunisia. Journal of Accounting in Emerging Economies, 6(2), 138-155. doi:DOI 10.1108/JAEE-09-2013-0048
Zuo, L. and Guan, X. (2014). The Association of Audit Firm Size and Industry Specialization on Earnings Management: Evidence in China. The Macrotheme Review A Multidisciplinary Journal of Global Macro Trends, 3(1), 1-21