Accountability of Audit Firms: Content Analysis Method

Document Type : Research Paper


1 Ph,D. Candidate, Department of Accounting, Faculty of Management & Accounting, Shahid Beheshti University, Tehran, Iran.

2 Assistant Prof., Department of Accounting, Faculty of Management & Accounting, Shahid Beheshti University, Tehran, Iran.

3 Associate Prof., Department of Accounting, Faculty of Management & Accounting, Shahid Beheshti University, Tehran, Iran.


Objective: Audit quality is a complex concept whose assessment depends on many latent factors. By providing information about them to stakeholders, the public accountability of audit firms contributes to assessing the quality of auditing and determining the extent to which they rely on audit reports. In this regard, this study examined the research in audit firm’s accountability to extract factors associating firm's accountability, the importance of which was determined by audit partners as experts.
Methods: This research applied a mixed (a combination of qualitative and quantitative data) method with exploratory objective. In this study, 99 papers were analyzed, and 23 experts who selected through the snowball method, ranked the extracted factors. According to the participants’ opinion, the factors were prioritized using the quantitative Entropy-Shannon method.
Results: Factors connecting to audit firm's accountability divided into three categories including motivating factors (nine categories), disincentive factors (three categories) and accountability dimensions (eight categories).
Conclusion: The results show that the legal requirements for accountability, active professional associations, stakeholders demand for accountability, active audit committee, social importance of auditor's activities, partners ‘personal tendency for disclosure, information content of auditor's report, signal to stakeholders and professional ethics play role in audit firms’ accountability context. On the contrary, raising stakeholders’ expectations and disclosure costs are obstacles for audit firms to be accountable. Furthermore, information of the quality control system, the auditing technology, the ownership, the legal and governmental structure, the independence policies, the financial position and performance, professional training and international cooperation are important for the stakeholders of audit firm's accountability.


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