SYNOPSIS

This study examines how audit committee expertise influences firms' key internal control scoping decisions. Using a unique merger and acquisition (M&A) setting where the internal control audit is voluntary, I study whether audit committee expertise is associated with the deferral of internal control testing for acquired firms. I also examine whether this internal control decision provides a channel through which audit committee expertise leads to positive financial reporting outcomes. I find that audit committees with greater specialized expertise (industry and legal) are less likely to opt-out of first-year target internal control over financial reporting (ICFR) integration. In my second analysis, I find that target ICFR integration provides an indirect path through which industry and legal expertise reduce the likelihood of misstatement. This study contributes to the audit committee and internal controls literature by providing evidence on audit committee influence over firms' internal control decisions and related financial reporting outcomes.

JEL Classifications: M41; M42; M48.

Data Availability: The data are publicly available from the sources identified in the paper.

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