SYNOPSIS

This study investigates the impact of the busy season and concomitant concentrated demands on audit resources on the likelihood of auditor switching. Hereafter, we refer to the concentration of companies with the same fiscal year-end date within an auditor's client portfolio as “workload compression.” Despite the economic significance of December year-end clients for audit firms and the challenges imposed by workload compression, the busy season remains a relatively unexplored area of study in the archival auditing literature (Sweeney and Summers 2002). This study represents an attempt to fill this void and validate some of the findings of prior behavioral studies from an empirical perspective. We employ a sample of 10,238 company-year observations for years 2004 through 2007 and find evidence consistent with December year-end companies having a lower likelihood of auditor switching than that of non-December year-end companies. However, we also find evidence of a significantly positive association between the likelihood of auditor switching and workload compression. Thus, our results suggest that it is not just the fiscal year-end month of a client that matters, but the concentration of busy season companies within an auditor's client portfolio also affects the auditor-client relationship.

Data Availability: Data are available from public sources identified in the paper.

You do not currently have access to this content.