Determinants of audit report modifications in Finnish municipalities

Mikko Paananen, Jaakko Rönkkö, Mikko Zerni, David Hay

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review


Although municipalities are major economic and social actors in most countries, remarkably little is known about their audits, particularly the determinants of their audit report modifications. The existing evidence is ambiguous at best and scarce, which provides opportunities for further accounting studies in this area. Therefore, based on an agency theory framework, we fill this important research gap by exploring three determinants of audit report modifications in municipalities: (1) economic performance, (2) decentralization of decision-making across different decision-making bodies, and (3) political competition between political parties in local councils. These determinants are examined based on a large panel of data on Finnish municipalities for the period from 2009 to 2013, covering virtually all of the country’s municipalities. We find that a striking 33 percent of audit reports had modifications during this period, which raises serious concerns about the state of municipal management, accounting, and auditing in Finland. Regarding the above determinants, the following conclusions can be made based on our analyses. First, we find partial evidence that weak economic performance increases the likelihood of audit report modifications. Second, the lower the competition among political parties in a local council, the lower the likelihood of audit report modifications. Finally, the more decentralized decision making is across the different decision-making bodies under the local council, the higher the probability of audit report modifications. These results are consistent with agency theory’s explanations regarding the value of auditing.
Original languageEnglish
Article number106777
Issue number3
Early online date6 Sept 2020
Publication statusPublished - 2021
Publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed

Publication forum classification

  • Publication forum level 1


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