This study empirically models auditors' relationships with their clients. The Independence Standards Board (ISB 2000) identified auditors' familiarity with the client as one of five threats to auditor independence. Yet familiarity with the client is necessary for auditors to understand the client well enough to plan and perform an effective and efficient audit. We introduce a theory‐based measure of the extent to which auditors identify with a client, which we then use to directly measure auditors' attachment to the client and the threat of this attachment to auditors' objectivity. The responses of 252 practicing auditors support our theoretical predictions. Specifically, we find that auditors do identify with their clients and that auditors who identify more with a client are more likely to acquiesce to the client‐preferred position. On the other hand, more experienced auditors and auditors who exhibit higher levels of professional identification are less likely to acquiesce to the client's position.

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