In my dissertation, I examine the role of the audit committee chair in the financial reporting process and test if the change in audit committee chair is associated with changes in audit fees, audit report lag, and audit quality. Motivation for this dissertation comes from the increased attention paid by legislators and regulators in recent years on the role of the audit committee in the financial reporting process. While prior studies have examined diverse issues related to the composition of the audit committee, no prior study has examined the role of the audit committee chair on the oversight of financial reporting, even though the chair of the committee has significant control over the functioning of the committee.
In the first essay of my dissertation, I show that audit fees are higher in firms that have a change in the audit committee chair. In the second essay, I examine the association between changes in the audit committee chair and audit report lag. In a changes regression, I find that the change in audit committee is associated with higher audit report lag. The third essay examines the association between changes in audit committee chair and two different measures of audit quality: restatements and abnormal accruals. There is no evidence in support of the argument that changes in audit committee chair is associated with higher quality financial reporting. Overall, the results suggest that the change in audit committee chair has an important impact on the financial reporting process of public companies.