Journal of Financial and Quantitative Analysis
We examine the role of relationship-based resource allocations during the approval process of secondary equity offerings (SEOs) in the Chinese capital market. In this unique regulatory setting, SEO-seeking firms must have their applications approved by an Issuance Examination Committee (IEC) of the China Securities Regulatory Commission (CSRC), a hybrid template between government-directed and market-directed models. We identify guanxi-based relationships as cases in which the partner of an intermediary professional firm (e.g., auditing or law) employed by the SEO applicant also serves on secondment as a full-time IEC member. Our results show that these guanxi-based relationships significantly increase the likelihood of SEO approvals, particularly for suspect SEO applicants with abnormal levels of earnings management, related-party transactions, and inter-company loans. More importantly, we find that guanxi-influenced SEO firms have significantly poorer performance in the post-SEO period, which indicates that it results in inefficient resource allocations. In addition, we show that these quid pro quo arrangements benefit IEC-member intermediaries through higher market shares and professional fee revenues. Overall, our evidence suggests that relationship-based resource allocations lead to negative spillover effects that impose social welfare losses.
We examine whether social ties between engagement auditors and audit committee members shape audit outcomes. Although these social ties can facilitate information transfer and help auditors alleviate management pressure to waive correction of detected misstatements, cozy interpersonal relations can undermine auditors' monitoring of the financial reporting process. We measure social ties by alma mater connections, professor-student bonding, and employment affiliation and audit quality by the propensity to render modified audit opinions, financial reporting irregularities, and firm valuation. Our evidence implies that social ties between engagement auditors and audit committee members impair audit quality. In additional results, we generally find that this relation is concentrated where social ties are more salient, or firm governance is relatively poor and agency conflicts are more severe. Implying reciprocity stemming from social networks, we also report some suggestive evidence that audit fees are higher in the presence of social ties between an engagement auditor and the audit committee. Collectively, our analysis lends support to the narrative that the negative implications--namely, worse audit quality and higher audit fees--of these social ties may outweigh the benefits.
Journal of Business Ethics
We analyze whether audit partners suffered damage to their professional reputations with the demise of Zhongtianqin (ZTQ), formerly the largest audit firm in China, after an audit failure enabled a major client, Yinguangxia (YGX), to fraudulently exaggerate its earnings in a high-profile scandal resembling the Andersen–Enron events in the US. This involves evaluating whether the reputational damage sustained by partners implicated in the scandal spreads to other partners in the same audit firm. We isolate whether impaired reputation impedes partners who were not complicit in the ZTQ–YGX events from attracting new clients or keeping existing ones. Our evidence implies that the market shares of these partners fell after ZTQ’s collapse, supporting that guiltless partners’ reputations were tarnished. We also find that these partners are less likely to be employed by reputable audit firms. The clients of these partners tend to have lower earnings response coefficients, implying that investors downgrade the perceived quality of their audits. Moreover, compared to a matched sample, the former ZTQ partners tend to charge lower audit fees after the firm’s collapse. Finally, we exploit the unique structure of ZTQ to provide evidence consistent with the prediction that the former partners from the branch that handled the YGX audits experienced worse damage to their reputations. In a setting with minimal auditor discipline stemming from civil litigation, our results lend support to the intuition that partners’ reputation concerns motivate them to protect audit quality by closely monitoring other partners in the firm.
Journal of Accounting and Public Policy
We take advantage of the unique institutional background of the B-share stock market in China to explore the impact of foreign investors on auditor choice. Our results show that the percentage of B-share firms audited by Big 4 auditors has decreased with both economic and statistical significance since the segmented B-share market was opened to domestic investors in 2001. We find that the negative effect of opening the B-share market on demand for high audit quality is more pronounced for firms with greater decreases in foreign ownership and for firms with strong incentives to be opaque, such as those in a weak institutional environment, firms with more “other receivables,” firms with more related-party transactions, and firms with political connections. Additional analysis shows that our results are not driven by the concurrent decline in capital-raising activities in the B-share market.
In some cultures vast personal wealth is lauded whereas in others, it is viewed with suspicion and contempt. In recent years, a super rich elite of business people has emerged in China, and, given the country's cultural and socialist past, we believe that people are more likely to react negatively to reports of conspicuous wealth. To test our arguments, we examine the reactions to and consequences of China's entrepreneurs being included on the Hurun Rich List. We find negative consequences for stock market traded firms controlled by the Rich List entrepreneurs: stock prices decline, government subsidies are reduced, and the named entrepreneurs are more likely to be investigated. These effects are strongest in rent-seeking industries and are mitigated by philanthropy.
This paper studies how culture affects economic behavior. We explore the reactions of investors, governments and entrepreneurs to the publication of the Hurun Rich List to study the impact of egalitarianism within Chinese Confucian culture. We find that when the Rich List is announced, investors react negatively to the companies controlled by the listed entrepreneurs and their market values drop significantly in the following three years and the government is reluctant to assist listed entrepreneurs and their companies, and even monitors them more closely. Furthermore, listed entrepreneurs are far more likely to be investigated, arrested and charged than other entrepreneurs. In addition, they tend to conceal profits through negative earnings management to avoid public attention. Finally, we observe that the foregoing negative reactions are more pronounced for firms involved in rent-seeking industries and with lower charitable donations.