Does auditor ethnicity matter in determining audit fees? Some empirical evidence from Indonesia

Publication Name

Accounting Research Journal


Purpose: This study aims to investigate the presence of the audit partner ethnicity on audit fees within the Indonesian context. Design/methodology/approach: The sample consists of 803 firm-year observations from the Indonesia Stock Exchange during the period of 2014–2018. The study uses fixed-effect regression analysis to examine the relationship between audit partner ethnicity and audit fees. Findings: This study reveals that firms audited by audit partners from the main ethnic group demonstrate lower audit fees, indicating a more extensive audit business network for this particular group of auditors compared to those from minority ethnic groups. Particularly, the study finds that firms audited by audit partners from the three largest ethnicities, namely, Balinese, Javanese and West Sumatranese, are associated with lower audit fees compared to others. These findings further contribute to the existing narrative and literature that highlight the ethnic background of audit partners as a form of social capital that influences lower audit fees. Research limitations/implications: This study provides valuable practical and academic implications regarding the impact of audit partner ethnicity on audit fees. The findings highlight the importance for audit firms to strive for a balanced representation of ethnic diversity in their auditor characteristics, as it can positively influence both governance and marketing strategies. By recognizing and addressing the significance of ethnic diversity among audit partners, firms can enhance their overall effectiveness and success in the auditing profession. Originality/value: This study makes a unique contribution by providing empirical data on audit pricing theory in Indonesia, specifically focusing on the role of ethnic diversity as a determinant of audit pricing. Previous research has not extensively explored the connection between auditor ethnicity and audit fees, particularly in relation to the business network as a channel mechanism. The theoretical explanations for the fee differentials have also been limited in prior studies. The current study addresses this gap by offering a theoretical basis that highlights the advantage of the dominant ethnic group in establishing an efficient audit market system. Consequently, these auditors are able to charge lower fees to clients without compromising on the quality of their services. This finding aligns with the existing literature on audit fees and underscores the importance of the main ethnic group in fostering an effective audit market, resulting in lower audit fees compared to mixed audit markets.

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