Main Article Content

Emiliano Ruiz Barbadillo
Universidade de Cádiz
Paula Rodríguez Castro
Universidade de Cádiz
Vol 22 No 1 (2013), Thematic Block The external audit: reflections to improve this activity
Submitted: 14-06-2013 Accepted: 14-06-2013
Copyright How to Cite


The high level of audit market concentration has increased over time due to the successive mergers that they have taken place between the large audit firms. This is generating a lot of interest and concern from regulators, academics and market participants. Therefore, the aim of this study is to review a wide range of studies that have attempted to analyze the nature of competition in the audit market, in order to conclude whether the audit market operates under conditions of perfect efficiency, or else a certain degree of imperfection which enables companies engaged in certain market power. Finally, we conclude with some reflections on the Spanish audit market, and in particular, even though there are several studies that have analyzed the concentration that exists in the market, none of them entered directly to analyze to what extent the high concentration level can be seen in Spain in the segment of large companies is allowing multinational firms to obtain monopoly rents.
Cited by

Article Details


ABIDIN, S.; BEATTIE, V.; GOODACRE, A. (2010): “Audit Market Structure, Fees and Choice in a Period of Structural Change: Evidence from the UK – 1998-2003”, The British Accounting Review, 42, pp. 187-206.

BABER, W.; BROOKS, E.; RICKS, W. (1987): “An Empirical Investigation of the Market for Audit Services in the Public Sector”, Journal of Accounting Research, 25 (2), pp. 293-305.

BAIN, J.S. (1951): “Relation of Profit Rate to Industry Concentration”, Quarterly Journal of Economics, 65, pp. 293-324.

BALDWIN, J.R.; GORECKI, P.K. (1989): “Measuring the Dynamics of Market Structure: Concentration and Mobility Statistics for the Canadian Manufacturing Sector”, Annals of Economics and Statistics, 15-16, pp. 315-332.

BANDYOPADHYAY, S.P.; KAO, J. (2004): “Market Structure and Audit Fees: A Local Analysis”, Contemporary Accounting Research, 21 (3), pp. 529-562.

BAUMOL, W.J. (1982): “Contestable Markets: An Uprising in the Theory of Industry Structure”, American Economic Review, 72, pp. 1-15.

BEATTIE, V.; GOODACRE, A.; FEARNLEY, S. (2003): “And Then there Were Four: A Study of UK Audit Market Concentration - Causes, Consequences and the Scope for Market Adjustment”, Journal of Financial Regulation and Compliance, 11 (3), pp. 250-265.

CARCELLO, J.V.; NAGY, A.L. (2004): “Audit Firm Tenure and Fraudulent Financial Reporting”, Auditing: A Journal of Practice & Theory, 23 (2) (September), pp. 55-69.

CARRERA, N.; GUTIÉRREZ, I.; CARMONA, S. (2005): “Concentración en el mercado de auditoría en España: análisis empírico del período 1990-2000”, Revista Española de Financiación y Contabilidad, XXXIV (125) (abril-junio), pp. 423-458.

CARSON, E.; FARGHER, N.; SIMON, D.; TAYLOR, M. (2004): “Audit Fees and Market Segmentation- -Further Evidence on How Client Size Matters within the Context of Audit Fee Models”, International Journal of Auditing, 8, pp. 79-91.

CASO, C.; MARTÍNEZ, A.; RÍO, M.J. (2011): “Los riesgos de concentración en el mercado de auditoría”, Partida Doble, 236, pp. 10-21.

CASTERELLA, J.; JENSEN, K.; KNECHEL, W. (2009): “Is Self-Regulated Peer Review Effective at Signaling Audit Quality?”, The Accounting Review, 84, pp. 713-735.

CAVES, R.E.; PORTER, M.E. (1978): “Market Structure, Oligopoly, and Stability of Market Shares”, The Journal of Industrial Economics, 26 (4), pp. 289-313.

CHAN, D. (1999): “«Low Balling» and Efficiency in a Two Period Specialization Model of Auditing Competition”, Contemporary Accounting Research, 16, pp. 609-642.

CHANEY, P.; JETER, D.; SHIVAKUMAR, L. (2004): “Self-Selection of Auditors and Audit Pricing in Private Firms”, Accounting Review, 79, pp. 51-72.

CHE-AHMAD, A.; HOUGHTON, K. (1996): “Audit Fee Premiums of big Eight Firms: Evidence from the Market for Medium-Size U.K. Auditees”, Journal of International Accounting, Auditing and Taxation, 5 (1), pp. 53-72.

CHEN, C.; LIN, C.; LIN, Y. (2008): “Audit Partner Tenure, Audit Firm Tenure, and Discretionary Accruals: Does Long-Term Auditor Tenure Impair Earnings Quality?”, Contemporary Accounting Research, 25 (2), pp. 415-445.

CHEN, C.; SU, X.; WU, X. (2007): “Market Competitiveness and Big 5 Pricing. Evidence from China’s Binary Market”, The International Journal of Accounting, 42, pp. 1-24.

CHEN, D.; EZZAMEL, M.; GWILLIAM, D.R. (1993): “Determinants of Audit Fees for Quoted UK Companies”, Journal of Business Finance & Accounting, 10 (6), pp. 765-786.

CRASWELL, A.T.; FRANCIS, J.R.; TAYLOR, S.L. (1995): “Auditor Brand Name Reputations and Industry Specialization”, Journal of Accounting and Economics, 20 (3), pp. 297-322.

DANOS, P.; EICHENSEHER, J. (1982): “Audit Industry Dynamics: Factors Affecting Changes in Client-Industry Market Shares”, Journal of Accounting Research, 20, pp. 604-616.

DANOS, P.; EICHENSEHER, J. (1986): “Long-Term Trends Toward Seller Concentration in the US Audit Market”, The Accounting Review, 61 (4), pp. 633-650.

DE FUENTES, C.; PUCHETA, M.C. (2009): “Auditor Independence, Joint Determination of Audit and Non-Audit Fees and the Incident of Qualified Audit Reports”, Academia, Revista Latinoamericana de Administración, 43, pp. 63-92.

DEANGELO, L.E. (1981): “Auditor Independence, «Low Balling», and Disclosure Regulation”, Journal of Accounting and Economics, 3 (2), pp. 113-127.

DEFOND, M.; LENNOX, C. (2011): “The Effect of SOX on Small Auditor Exits and Audit Quality”, Journal of Accounting and Economics, 52 (1), pp. 21-40.

DEMSETZ, H. (1973): “Industry Structure, Market Rivalry, and Public Policy”, Journal of Law and Economics, 16 (April), pp. 1-9.

DOPUCH, N.; SIMUNIC, D.A. (1980): “The Nature of Competition in the Auditing Profession: A Descriptive and Normative View”, en J.W. Buckley e J.G. Weston [ed.]: Regulation and the Accounting Profession. Belmont, CA: Lifetime Learning Publications.

EUROPEAN COMMISSION (2010): Green Paper: Audit Policy: Lessons from the Crisis. . Brussels: European Commission.

EZZAMEL, M.; GWILLIAM, D.R.; HOLLAND, K.M. (1996): “Some Empirical Evidence from Publicly Quoted UK Companies on the Relationship between the Pricing of Audit and Non-Audit Services”, Accounting and Business Research, 27 (1), pp. 3-16.

FELDMAN, E.R. (2006): “A Basic Quantification of the Competitive Implications of the Demise of Arthur Andersen”, Review of Industrial Organization, 29 (3), pp. 193-212.

FERGUSON, A.; FRANCIS, J.; STOKES, D. (2003): “The Effects of Firm-Wide and Office-Level Industry Expertise on Audit Pricing”, The Accounting Review, 78 (2), pp. 429-448.

FERGUSON, A.; STOKES, D.J. (2002): “Brand Name Audit Pricing, Industry Specialization and Leadership Premiums Post-Big 8 and Big 6 Mergers”, Contemporary Accounting Research, 19 (1), pp. 77-110.

FINANCIAL REPORTING COUNCIL (2009): Choice in the UK Audit Market: Fourth Progress Report. London: FRC.

FIRTH, M. (1985): “An Analysis of Audit Fees and their Determination in New Zealand”, Auditing: A Journal of Practice & Theory, (Spring), pp. 23-37.

FIRTH, M.; LAU, T. (2004): “Audit Pricing Following Mergers of Accounting Practices: Evidence from Hong Kong”, Accounting and Business Research, 34 (3), pp. 201-213.

FRANCIS, J. (2011): “A Framework for Understanding and Researching Audit Quality”, Auditing: A Journal of Practice and Theory, 30 (2), pp. 125-152.

FRANCIS, J.; RICHELT, K.; WANG, D. (2005): “The Pricing of National and City-Specific Reputations for Industry Expertise in the U.S. Audit Market”, The Accounting Review, 80 (1), pp. 113-136.

FRANCIS, J.; WILSON, E.R. (1988): “Auditor Changes: A Joint Test of Theories Relating to Agency Costs and Auditor Differentiation”, The Accounting Review, 63 (4), pp. 663-682.

FRANCIS, J.R. (1984): “The Effect of Audit Firm Size on Audit Prices: A Study of the Australian Market”, Journal of Accounting & Economics, 6 (2), pp. 133-151.

FRANCIS, J.R.; STOKES, D.J. (1986): “Audit Prices, Product Differentiation, and Scale Economies: Further Evidence from the Australian Market”, Journal of Accounting Research, 24 (2), pp. 383-393.

GARCÍA BENAU, M.A.; RUIZ BARBADILLO, E.; VICO MARTÍNEZ, A. (1998): Análisis de la estructura del mercado de auditoría en España. Madrid: Instituto de Contabilidad y Auditoría de Cuentas.

GOVERNMENT ACCOUNTABILITY OFFICE (2003): Public Accounting Firms: Mandated Study on Consolidation and Competition. <>. Washington, D.C., WA: GAO.

GOVERNMENT ACCOUNTABILITY OFFICE (2008): Audits of Public Companies: Continued Concentration in Audit Market for Large Public Companies Does Not Call for Immediate Action. <>. Washington D.C., WA: GAO.

GRAMLING, A.A.; STONE, D.N. (2001): “Audit Firm Industry Expertise: A Review and Synthesis of the Archival Literature”, Journal of Accounting Literature, 20, pp. 1-29.

GUL, F.A. (1999): “Audit Prices, Product Differentiation and Economic Equilibrium”, Auditing: A Journal of Practice and Theory, 18 (1), pp. 90-100.

HACKENBRACK, K.E.; HOGAN, C.E. (2005): “Client Retention and Engagement Level Pricing”, Auditing: A Journal of Practice & Theory, 24 (1), pp. 7-20.

HAMILTON, J.; LI, Y.; STOKES, D. (2008): “Is the Audit Services Market Competitive Following Arthur Andersen’s Collapse?”, Accounting and Finance, 48 (2), pp. 233-258.

HAY, D.C.; KNECHEL, W.R.; WONG, N. (2006): “Audit Fees: A Meta-Analysis of the Effect of Supply and Demand Attributes”, Contemporary Accounting Research, 23 (1), pp. 141-191.

HOGAN, C.; JETER, D. (1999): “Industry Specialization by Auditors”, Auditing: A Journal of Practice and Theory, (Spring), pp. 1-17.

HUERGO, E. (2005): El diagnóstico de poder de mercado en Economía Industrial: Una revisión de la literatura empírica española del siglo XX. (More Papers in Industrial Organization from EconWPA).

IRELAND, J.C.; LENNOX, C.S. (2002): “The Large Audit Firm Fee Premium: A Case of Selectivity Bias?”, Journal of Accounting, Auditing & Finance, 17 (1), pp. 73-91.

JOHNSON, E.; WALKER, K.; WESTERGAARD, E. (1995): “Supplier Concentration and Pricing of Services in New Zealand”, Auditing: A Journal of Theory and Practice, 2, pp. 74-89.

MARTÍNEZ, A.; CASO, C.; RÍO, M.J. (2005): “Las sociedades cotizadas y la concentración del mercado de auditoría”, Partida Doble, 170, pp. 84-96.

MCMEEKING, K.P.; PEASNELL, K.V.; POPE, P.F. (2007): “The Effect of Large Audit Firm Mergers on Audit Pricing in the UK”, Accounting and Business Research, 37 (4), pp. 301-319.

MENON, K.; WILLIAMS, D.D. (2001): “Long‐Term Trends in Audit Fees”, Auditing: A Journal of Practice & Theory, 20 (1) (March), pp. 115-136.

MONTERREY MAYORAL J.; SÁNCHEZ SEGURA, A. (2007): “Un estudio empírico de los honorarios del auditor”, Cuadernos de Economía y Dirección de la Empresa, 32 (septiembre), pp. 81-110.

PALMROSE, Z. (1986): “Audit Fees and Auditor Size: Further Evidence”, Journal of Accounting Research, 24 (1), pp. 97-110.

PANZAR, J.C.; ROSSE, J.N. (1987): “Testing For “Monopoly” Equilibrium”, The Journal of Industrial Economics, 35 (4), pp. 443-456.

PEARSON, T.; TROMPETER, G. (1994): “Competition in the Market for Audit Services”, Contemporary Accounting Research, 11 (1), pp. 115-135.

PONG, C. (1999): “Auditor Concentration: A Replication and Extension for the UK Audit Market 1991-1995”, Journal of Business Finance & Accounting, 26 (3-4), pp. 451-475.

PONG, C. M.; WHITTINGTON, G. (1994): “The Determinants of Audit Fees: Some Empirical Models”, Journal of Business Finance & Accounting, 21 (8), pp. 1071-1095.

QUICK, R.; WOLZ, M. (1999): “Concentration on the German Audit Market - An Empirical Analysis of the Concentration on the German Market for Stock Corporation Audits”, International Journal of Auditing, 3 (3), pp. 175-189.

RHOADES, S. (1985): “Market Share as a Source of Market Power: Implications and Some Evidence”, Journal of Economic and Business, 37, pp. 343-363.

RODRÍGUEZ, P.I.; RUIZ, E. (2012): “Un análisis de la movilidad intra-industrial en el mercado de auditoría español”, XV Encuentro ASEPUC. Cádiz: Asociación Española de Profesores Universitarios de Contabilidad (ASEPUC).

SCHMALENSEE, R. (1982): “Product Differentiation Advantages of Pioneering Brands”, The American Economic Review, 72 (3), pp. 349-365.

SHEPHERD, W.G. (1997): The Economics of Industrial Organization. 4ª ed. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall.

SIMON, D.; TEO, S.; TROMPETER, G. (1992): “A Comparative Study of the Market for Audit Services in Hong Kong, Malaysia, and Singapore”, International Journal of Accounting Education and Research, 27, pp. 234-240.

SIMON, D.T. (1985): “Audit Services Market: Additional Empirical Evidence”, Auditing: A Journal of Practice & Theory, 5, pp. 71-78.

SIMON, D.T.; FRANCIS, J.R. (1988): “The Effects of Auditor Change on Audit Fees: Tests of Price Cutting and Price Recovery”, The Accounting Review, 63 (2), pp. 255-269.

SIMUNIC, D. (1980): “The Pricing of Audit Services: Theory and Evidence”, Journal of Accounting Research, 18 (1), pp. 161-190.

SIMUNIC, D.; STEIN, M. (1987): Product Differentiation in Auditing: Auditor Choice in the Market for Unseasoned New Issues. Vancouver: Canadian Certified General Accountants’ Research Foundation.

TIROLE, J. (1988): The Theory of Industrial Organization, Boston, MA: MIT Press.

TOSCANO MOCTEZUMA, J.A.; GARCÍA BENAU, M.A. (2011): “Estrategias de las cuatro firmas internacionales de la auditoría en México”, Revista Europea de Dirección y Economía de la Empresa, 20 (1), pp. 89-104.

WALLACE, W. (1980): The Economic Role of the Audit in Free and Regulated Market. London: MacMillan.

WILLEKENS, M.; ACHMADI, C. (2003): “Pricing and Supplier Concentration in the Private Client Segment of the Audit Market: Market Power or Competition?”, The International Journal of Accounting, 38 (4), pp. 431-455.

YARDLEY, J.A.; KAUFFMAN, N.L.; CAIRNEY, T.D.; ALBRECHT, W.D. (1992): “Supplier Behaviour in the US Audit Market”, Journal of Accounting Literature, 11, pp. 151-184.