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The impact of the pricewaterhouseCoopers merger on auditor-client alignment
journal contributionposted on 2006-03-01, 00:00 authored by S Thavapalan, R Moroney, Roger SimnettRoger Simnett
This paper investigates the impact of the PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) merger in Australia on existing and potential clients of the new merged firm. From prior theory it is expected that some existing clients may have an incentive to switch away from a newly merged firm as the same larger firm now audits close competitors once audited by separate firms. Prior theory also suggests that another group of potential clients should be attracted to the newly merged firm where the merger enhances or creates industry specializations. The expectation is that in both of these instances there will be increased switching activity associated with the newly merged audit firm. Contrary to expectations, a significantly lower level of switching behaviour was observed for the newly merged firm compared with that of the other Big 5 firms, suggesting that an advantage of enhanced specialization may not be the attraction of new clients but the retention of existing clients. When comparing the nature of the switches, some support was found for the view that the switches to the new firm were likely to be in enhanced areas of specialization, but no evidence was found to suggest that close competitors would switch away from this firm. The greater rate of retention of clients compared with other Big 5 firms was not associated with a more competitive audit pricing policy.