Audit committee members must be independent of management to protect shareholder interests. While current regulations restrict audit committee members from holding management positions (i.e., affiliations), studies find that management’s preferences continue to impact audit committee decisions. This motivates analysis of independence threats beyond affiliations. We apply the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants’ conceptual approach to independence and examine the threat of management’s undue influence over audit committee members. Examining the relative tenure of executives and audit committee members, we find that greater management influence is associated with a lower propensity of the auditor to issue a modified going concern opinion to a distressed client. We also find that greater management influence is associated with increased opinion shopping behavior. These findings are consistent with an undue influence threat to audit committee independence. Our results extend the academic literature and inform regulatory concerns on audit committee independence.

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