Original Research

Transparency report disclosure practices of large- and medium-sized audit firms in South Africa

Rozanne J. Smith, Ben Marx
Journal of Economic and Financial Sciences | Vol 14, No 1 | a662 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/jef.v14i1.662 | © 2021 Rozanne J. Smith, Ben Marx | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 02 March 2021 | Published: 29 July 2021

About the author(s)

Rozanne J. Smith, Department of Accountancy, College of Business and Economics, University of Johannesburg, Johannesburg, South Africa
Ben Marx, Department of Accountancy, College of Business and Economics, University of Johannesburg, Johannesburg, South Africa


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Abstract

Research purpose: The purpose of this study is to examine the corporate governance practices disclosed by large- and medium-sized audit firms in South Africa, with a particular focus on transparency reports. Audit firms serve the public interest.

Motivation for the study: This study was motivated by recent corporate failures in South Africa, such KPMG, VBS Bank, and Steinhoff, to mention a few.

Research approach/design and method: The research approach followed for this study consists of a mixed method approach. Qualitative secondary data were obtained from publicly accessible information published on the websites of the audit firms. The data, which consisted of the firms’ transparency reports, were analysed through content analysis. The results were then converted into quantitative data.

Main findings: The main findings reveal that audit firms in South Africa do not disclose sufficient corporate governance information in their transparency reports. There are inconsistencies between audit firms.

Practical/managerial implications: In South Africa, audit firms do not have a corporate governance code for audit firms, and thus audit firms are not disclosing the relevant corporate governance information to their stakeholders.

Contribution/value-add: This article contributes to the limited literature available on audit firm governance. Based on the findings, the study proposes best practice recommendations and regulatory and statutory recommendations regarding audit firm governance.


Keywords

corporate governance; audit firms; independence; stakeholders; public interest; EXCO; oversight board; transparency report disclosure

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