Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to investigate the relationship between the political connections of firms, managerial incentives and auditor choice. Data from China were used to determine whether managers in firms with political connections are more likely to hire auditors of low quality to help them cover up earnings management and opportunistic behavior.
Design/methodology/approach – Cross-sectional analysis was conducted using data covering the period from 2003 to 2009 and the Top 10 auditors were used as a proxy to represent the demand for high-quality auditors. Three proxies were used to measure the political connectedness: state-owned enterprises (SOEs), politically connected CEOs and state ownership.
Findings – This paper provides empirical evidence that firms with political connections do not demand stringency in the monitoring and information roles of auditing. Moreover, politically connected firms with high managerial incentives are likely to choose non-Top 10 auditors.
Originality/value – This paper provides a unique focus on the role of managerial incentives in the appointment of auditors. This paper tests the managerial opportunism hypothesis in another context and results of this paper help to elucidate the effects of managerial incentives on the demand of audit quality.