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Title: Audit firm operating leverage and pricing strategy: Evidence from lowballing in audit industry
Author(s): Yi, Cheong Heon 
Author(s): Yang, S.
Lee, W.-J.
Lim, Y.
Issue Date: 2021
Publisher: Elsevier
Journal: Journal of Contemporary Accounting & Economics 
Volume: 17
Issue: 2
Using a unique set of Korean data for the years 2004–2013, we show that audit firms’ operating leverage is related to lowballing and audit quality. To capture audit firms’ operating leverage, we estimate audit hour elasticity from a regression of changes in logged audit hours on changes in logged audit fees for all audit clients of each audit firm. We find that audit firms with higher audit hour elasticity are more likely to discount fees for new clients (i.e., more lowballing). Further, we find that the relation is more salient when benefits of lowballing is expected to be greater, i.e., in the voluntary auditor rotation regime compared with the mandatory rotation regime. However, we find no evidence suggesting that audit quality of auditors with low operating leverage is compromised due to lowballing. Overall, our findings suggest that audit firms with more flexible production structure have a greater ability to implement pricing strategy even without sacrificing production quality.
DOI: 10.1016/j.jcae.2021.100254
CIHE Affiliated Publication: Yes
Appears in Collections:BHM Publication

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