Big five audits and accounting fraud

Clive Lennox, Jeffrey A. Pittman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

203 Citations (SciVal)


We examine the association between Big Five audits and the incidence of accounting frauds allegedly committed by U.S. public companies between 1981 and 2001. Many commentators argue that the prominent financial reporting failures that led to major corporate governance reforms cast serious doubt on whether the large public accounting firms continue to supply relatively high-quality audits, especially in recent years. However, in unmatched and matched samples, we provide strong, robust evidence that fraudulent financial reporting becomes less likely with the presence of a Big Five auditor. Importantly, time-series tests suggest that the Big Five are consistently associated with a lower incidence of fraudulent accounting, including in the last five years of our sample period when the number of frauds soared. Moreover, we find evidence implying that these relations are causal rather than an artifact of endogeneity in auditor choice.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)209-247
Number of pages39
JournalContemporary Accounting Research
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2010


Dive into the research topics of 'Big five audits and accounting fraud'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this