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DeAngelo(1981)는 감사품질을 감사인이 감사대상회사의 회계시스템에 존재하는 위배사항을 발견할 확률(적격성)과 발견된 위배사항을 보고할 확률(독립성)의 결합확률로 정의하였다. 그러나 감사인의 능력이 발휘되는 정도와 투입할 수 있는 노력은 항상 동일할 수 없으며 감사인이 처한 상황에 따라 달라질 수 있다. 12월 결산법인이 90%이상을 차지하는 우리나라의 상황에서 감사인의 업무는 1월부터 3월에 집중되어 있으며, 관계 법령과 실무관행이 맞물리면서 주차별 감사인의 업무 과중 정도에 차이가 존재한다. 이러한 주차별 업무과부하는 다른 조건이 동일하더라도 감사품질에 차이를 유발할 것으로 예상된다. 본 연구는 감사인의 업무과부하 현상이 감사품질과 갖는 관련성을 살펴보았다. 연구대상은 실무적으로 비지시즌(busy season)에 해당하는 1월에서 3월 사이에 감사보고서가 발행되는 12월 결산법인인 상장기업으로 하였다. 연구 결과 감사인의 업무과부하가 심할수록 감사품질이 낮아지는 것으로 나타났으며, 감사인이 Non-BIG4인 경우에만 유의적인 관련성을 보였다. 또한 감사인의 업무과부하가 감사품질에 미치는 영향은 상대적으로 재무보고 품질이 낮은 코스닥시장에서만 유의적으로 나타났는데, 이는 감사인의 업무과부하가 감사품질을 결정하는 요소 중에 하나임을 시사한다. 비지시즌의 무리한 감사업무 수행은 오랫동안 이슈가 되어 왔고 개선의 목소리가 높았으나 실증분석이 거의 이루어지지 않았다. 감사업무의 과부하는 단순히 회계사의 업무 환경이나 복리의 문제가 아니라 감사품질에 영향을 줄 수 있다는 점에서 시장에 미치는 효과가 크다고 볼 수 있다. 본 연구 결과는 법률 제정 방향과 회계법인의 운영에 있어 정책적인 시사점을 제공한다. 투입되는 노력(감사시간 등)만을 증가시켜 감사품질 향상을 기대하기는 어렵다. 감사팀 구성원에 의해 투입되는 노력이 적정한 집중력과 주의를 기울여서 수행될 수 있도록 감사업무 환경의 개선이 필요하다. 따라서 감사업무의 과부하를 최소화할 수 있는 제도 개선이 이루어져야 하며, 회계법인 차원에서도 인력 운영에 있어 이 점을 염두에 두어야 할 것이다.


DeAngelo (1981) defines audit quality as the combined probability of (i) detecting errors in the accounting system and (ⅱ) reporting such errors. However, the extent to which an auditor can utilize his/her competence and put efforts is not always consistent and varies depending on the circumstances surrounding the auditor. Previous studies indicate that busy season pressures, such as auditor burnout and time constraints, can deteriorate audit quality. Despite the importance of such potential effects, there is little empirical research that documents whether auditor’s workload compression ultimately affect audit quality. In response, we investigate whether auditor’s workload compression is associated with lower audit quality. In Korea, audit engagements are concentrated in a short time window between January and March (practically called busy season) as more than 90% of domestic companies have December fiscal year-ends. Further, the level of audit work intensity during busy season fluctuates from week to week due to related laws and practices. We hardly expect the audit quality of any auditor to be always consistent under such changing workload conditions. Against this backdrop, this study investigates the correlation between an auditor’s workload compression and audit quality. We use a pooled cross-sectional sample of listed companies with December fiscal year-ends which issue annual audit reports during January to March. Our sample includes 12,012 firm-year observations during the period 2003–2012. We measure a relative level of workload compression of an auditor for each week of busy season in two ways. The first variation is the ratio of the audit fees charged to engagements for which audit reports are issued in a certain week to total audit fees of an auditor. The second variation is the ratio of the number of audit reports issued in a certain week to the total number of audit reports issued during busy season. Higher values of both measurements should be associated with higher concentrations in auditor workloads, because the number of audit reports and fees reflect the amount of auditor’s works to be done during specific periods. As proxies for audit quality, we use discretionary accrual estimates from the modified Jones (19915) model and performance matching model from Kothari et al.(2005). We find that the audit quality of each engagement is negatively associated with auditor’s workload compression under which a certain engagement work is performed. In specific, audit engagements of which audit reports issued in a week of highly concentrated auditor’s work during busy season exhibit higher levels of discretionary accruals, which imply lower levels of audit quality. This correlation is significant only among Non-BIG4 auditors which have less flexible human resources. Similarly, the impact of auditor’s workload compression on audit quality is significant only for KOSDAQ companies which are considered to have lower accounting quality than KOSPI companies. Our results suggest that auditor’s workload compression is one of significant determinants of audit quality. Also, our analysis shows that the significance of negative association between auditor’s workload compression and audit quality depends on the characteristics of accounting firms and companies. Although auditor’s workload compression has been an issue for a long time, there are little empirical studies that document whether auditor’s workload pressures ultimately affect the audit quality. The severity of concentrated auditor’s workload is not only a matter of welfare and working environment of accountants, but also affects audit quality and capital market. We expect that our study helps policy makers and accounting firms pursue enhancement of audit quality. A higher audit quality cannot be obtained only through investing more audit hours and fees, unless an appropriate working environment where auditors can perform audit work with adequate due care and attention is provided. We believe that improvements of regulatory environment to minimize auditor’s workload compression are needed. Also, accounting firms consider our results for management of employees and risk management.