Harmonisation of Audit Practice: Empirical Evidence from Going-Concern Reporting in the Nordic Countries

Nina Sormunen, Kim Klarskov Jeppesen, Stefan Sundgren, Tobias Svanström

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review


The study uses a sample of 2,941 bankrupt firms from Denmark, Finland, Norway and Sweden in the period 2007 to 2011, and investigates the harmonisation of audit behaviour in terms of going-concern reporting. Even though the Nordic countries have similar legal systems and, for all practical purposes, identical audit requirements regarding going-concern reporting, the study findings show significant differences in going-concern reporting before bankruptcy between the Nordic countries. One key result is that Danish and Norwegian companies get a going-concern opinion prior to bankruptcy more frequently than companies in Sweden and Finland. Although, this is an interesting finding, it should be interpreted with caution, particularly as it has not been possible to empirically test the reasons behind this variation. Potential reasons are discussed, such as differences in when the going-concern standard was introduced and implemented in each country. Alternatively, the formal requirement for becoming an authorised or approved auditor, the demand for continuing education and the risk of disciplinary sanctions could all drive national variance in reporting quality in favour of a higher quality in Denmark and Norway compared to Sweden and Finland. Finally, the study findings also indicate that differences in audit reporting behaviour are moderated by international audit firm networks.
Original languageEnglish
JournalInternational Journal of Auditing
Issue number3
Pages (from-to)308-326
Publication statusPublished - 2013

Cite this