Date Available


Year of Publication


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Document Type

Doctoral Dissertation


Business and Economics



First Advisor

Dr. Dan Stone


This dissertation, consisting of two studies, analyzes a dataset of audit proposals to investigate auditors’ impression management strategies and audit procurement quality in the public sector. Text based analytic methods are employed to examine the content of audit proposals, which were submitted for government audit engagements in fifteen states.

The first study investigates auditors' marketing language and hypothesizes that CPA firms will project a cooperative, non-independent image in audit proposals to impress potential clients. The results suggest that CPA firms, especially larger ones, project a persona of a cooperative and trustworthy service provider than to present themselves as independent auditors. In addition, CPA firms self-portray more independence when client management is involved in a procurement process compared to when an independent state audit agency selects the auditor. Responding to the PCAOB's (2013) concern about auditors' commercial interests and marketing materials, the findings suggest that CPA firms’ marketing language may threaten perceived auditor independence and thus are important to regulators, practitioners, and decision makers.

The second study examines the association between auditor selection and perceived audit service qualities in audit proposals. Based on agency theory and prior research, this study predicts that government clients will choose an auditor whose audit proposal reflects more perceived audit quality attributes and that this association will be stronger for states with higher political competition or lower perceived risk of corruption. The results indicate that government clients tend to select an auditor who emphasizes competence, is a predecessor auditor, and, is less expensive. The findings provide insights into governmental audit procurement practices and the determinants of auditor selection decisions in the public sector.

The dissertation contributes to the literature by creating a new, unexplored dataset of audit proposals, developing and validating linguistic categories related to the concepts of auditor independence, relationship marketing, and competence, and exploring potential threat of audit firms’ marketing materials to the appearance of auditor independence.

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