Auditing in times of social distancing: the effect of COVID-19 on auditing quality

Khaldoon Albitar, Ali Meftah Gerged, Kikhia Hassan, Khaled Hussainey

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Purpose: Our paper aims to discuss the theoretical impact of Covid-19 social distancing outbreak on audit quality.

Our paper uses a desk study method to explore the possible impact of COVID-19 crisis on five key considerations for audit quality during the pandemic. These include audit fees, going concern assessment, auditor human capital, audit procedures and audit personnel salaries.

Findings: As many believe that the COVID-19 outbreak is as yet not a financial crisis, we, on the contrary, believe that the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic would be the toughest challenge for auditors and their clients since the 2007-2008 global financial crisis. Specifically, we believe that the COVID-19 social distancing can largely affect audit fees, going concern assessment, audit human capital, audit procedures, audit personnel salaries, and audit effort, which ultimately can pose a severe impact on audit quality.

Practical implications: Due to the implementations of work-from-home strategy, audit firms are highly recommended to invest more in digital programs, including artificial intelligence, blockchain, network security, and data function development. This can help them to be more adaptable to working from home experience, which is ultimately expected to enhance the effectiveness and the flexibility of communication between auditors and their clients. Also, we recommend stock markets and other governmental bodies to provide temporary relaxations in compliance requirements to corporations. This procedure is expected to help firms that apply work-from-home strategy to report better earnings figures, which is appeared to be positively associated with audit quality.

Originality/value: To date, to the best of our knowledge, there is no academic study that explores the potential impact of the COVID-19 outbreak on audit quality. This paper, therefore, fills an important research gap in the auditing literature. In addition, our paper can be used as a base to construct a research instrument (e.g., questionnaire or interviews) to provide empirical evidence on the potential impact of COVID-19 on audit quality.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)169-178
Number of pages10
JournalInternational Journal of Accounting & Information Management
Issue number1
Early online date18 Sept 2020
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2021


  • Audit Quality
  • Audit Profession
  • Financial Reporting
  • Social Distancing
  • COVID-19 Crisis


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