Employee Profile

Marleen Willekens

Adjunct Professor - Department of Accounting and Operations Management

Publications

Averhals, Liesbeth; Van Caneghem, Tom & Willekens, Marleen (2020)

Mandatory audit fee disclosure and price competition in the private client segment of the audit market.

Journal of International Accounting, Auditing and Taxation, 40 Doi: 10.1016/j.intaccaudtax.2020.100337

This study empirically examines whether mandatory audit fee disclosure affects audit pric-ing and price competition in the private client segment of the Belgian audit market. Weexpect price competition between auditors to intensify after mandatory public disclosureof audit fees because transparency of audit fee information is likely to increase client bar-gaining power and/or increase competitive pressure. Using a data set including both pre-and post-disclosure audit fees of private clients, we observe that subsequent to mandatorydisclosure of audit fees, clients with positive (negative) abnormal audit fees experience adownward (upward) fee adjustment. Consistent with increased price competition followingmandatory audit fee disclosure, clients with negative abnormal audit fees are better able tomitigate the upward fee adjustment if they have higher bargaining power or have an audi-tor facing stronger competitive pressure. These effects are largest in the initial disclosureyear, suggesting anticipatory price adjusting behavior by audit firms.

Willekens, Marleen; Dekeyser, Simon, Bruynseels, Liesbeth & Numan, Wieteke (2020)

Auditor Market Power and Audit Quality Revisited: Effects of Market Concentration, Market Share Distance, and Leadership

Journal of Accounting, Auditing and Finance Doi: 10.1177/0148558X20966249

This study examines whether auditor market power is associated with audit quality. Regulators around the world have repeatedly expressed concerns about the high levels of supplier concentration, the limited number of audit suppliers in the audit market, and the potential adverse consequences of their (alleged) market power. Using U.S. data from 2009 to 2017, we examine the effect on audit quality of two competing measures of auditor market power: (a) a “traditional” market concentration measure (Herfindahl index) and (b) a competing measure derived from spatial competition theory (i.e., market share distance from the closest competitor). Following Aobdia, we infer audit quality from two measures of financial reporting quality: (a) the level of absolute abnormal accruals, and (b) the incidence of financial statement restatements. Our results indicate that industry market share distance is positively associated with audit quality, but we do not find an association between market concentration and audit quality. In addition, we find that the positive association between market share distance and audit quality only holds when the incumbent auditor is a market leader, although industry leadership itself is not significantly associated with audit quality. These findings suggest that audit quality is positively affected by a market leader’s industry market share dominance over its competitors rather than by industry specialization per se.

Langli, John Christian & Willekens, Marleen (2018)

The Economics of Auditor Regulation

Sasson, Amir (red.). At the Forefront, Looking Ahead: Research-Based Answers to Contemporary Uncertainties of Management

Dekeyser, Simon; Gaeremynck, Ann & Willekens, Marleen (2018)

Evidence of Industry Scale Effects on Audit Hours, Billing Rates, and Pricing

Contemporary Accounting Research Doi: 10.1111/1911-3846.12460 - Full text in research archive

Using a proprietary dataset consisting of all private firm audit engagements in 2000 from one Big 4 firm in Belgium, we investigate: (1) whether audit office industry scale is associated with a reduction of total, partner and staff audit hours and thus with efficiency gains triggered by organizational learning from servicing more clients in an industry; and (2) whether the extent of efficiency pass‐on from the auditor to its clients depends on the audit firm's market power. We find that auditor office industry scale is associated with efficiency gains and a reduction of the variable costs (i.e., fewer total audit hours, partner hours, and staff hours), ceteris paribus. Our results also suggest that, on average, realized efficiencies are entirely passed on as evidenced by a non‐significant effect of auditor industry scale on the auditor's billing rate. Furthermore, we find that the extent of the efficiency pass‐on decreases with the market power of the audit firm in the industry market segment as we document a higher billing rate for auditors with high market power (versus low market power). In addition, we find that the lower audit hours associated with auditor industry scale do not compromise audit quality.

Dutillieux, Wouter; Francis, Jere R. & Willekens, Marleen (2016)

The Spillover of SOX on Earnings Quality in Non-U.S. Jurisdictions

Accounting Horizons, 30(1), s. 23- 39. Doi: 10.2308/acch-51241

Langli, John Christian & Willekens, Marleen (2017)

Tax Avoidance, Ownership Patterns and High-Quality Auditing in Private Firms.

[Academic lecture]. EARNet 2017.

Academic Degrees
Year Academic Department Degree
1995 University of Warwick, Warwick Business School Ph.D.
1987 University of Gent M.A. in Business Economics
1985 University of Gent B.A. in Economics
Work Experience
Year Employer Job Title
2012 - Present BI Norwegian Business School Adjunct professor
2009 - Present KULeuven Chair of the Department of Accounting, Finance and Insurance (AFI),
2008 - Present KULeuven Professor of Accounting and Auditing
2006 - 2008 Tilburg University Professor of Auditing
2003 - 2006 KULeuven Professor of Accounting and Auditing
1998 - 2003 KULeuven Associate Professor of Accounting
1995 - 1997 KULeuven Assistant Professor of Accounting
1988 - 1989 Bank Brussels Lambert (ING) Analyst