Audit Firm Reputational Consequences of Alleged Non-Accounting Misconduct by Clients: How Bargaining Power Temporarily Shifts Around Securities Litigation Academic Article uri icon


  • SUMMARY This study examines how auditor-client bargaining power changes when misconduct unrelated to accounting, which we proxy for using non-accounting securities fraud lawsuits, is revealed at another client of the auditor. This type of misconduct can cause perceived reputational damage for the auditor that temporarily increases client bargaining power. In the year after suit filing, fees are lower for clients in the same city-industry office as the sued client, but are unchanged for clients of other auditors in the same city-industry, suggesting the effect is not due to economic distress. This effect is stronger (1) when suits are severe, likely because the negative information is more salient, and (2) when client bargaining power is stronger. Overall, these results provide evidence that reputation is important for U.S. audit firms. Further, the results also support the notion that reputation is susceptible to temporary damage from events beyond auditors' control. JEL Classifications:K22; M42; M49.

published proceedings


author list (cited authors)

  • Donelson, D. C., Ege, M. S., & Leiby, J.

citation count

  • 13

complete list of authors

  • Donelson, Dain C||Ege, Matthew S||Leiby, Justin

publication date

  • November 2019