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Was Arthur Andersen Different?: An Empirical Examination of Major Accounting Firm Audits of Large Clients (with Ted Eisenberg), 1 Journal of Empirical Legal Studies 263-300 (2004)


Enron and other corporate financial scandals focused attention on the accounting industry in general and on Arthur Andersen in particular. Part of the policy response to Enron, the criminal prosecution of Andersen eliminated one of the few major audit firms capable of auditing many large public corporations. This article explores whether Andersen's performance, as measured by frequency of financial restatements, measurably differed from that of other large auditors. Financial restatements trigger significant negative market reactions and their frequency can be viewed as a measure of accounting performance. We analyze the financial restatement activity of approximately 1,000 large public firms from 1997 through 2001. After controlling for client size, region, time, and industry, we find no evidence that Andersen's performance significantly differed from that of other large accounting firms.

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