The Business Risk Audit Approach and Audit Production Efficiency

Michael De Martinis, Keith Houghton

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Citations (Scopus)


Essentially, this study asks: Does the business risk audit (BRA) approach increase audit production efficiency? To answer this question empirically, direct and indirect tests are employed using proprietary, working paper data from the larger clients of a major Australian public sector audit provider and an efficiency frontier analytic methodology, data envelopment analysis (DEA). Results based on this proprietary, audit hours data for audit engagements carried out just after BRA approach implementation show that they have high levels of production efficiency and are risk-adjusted, with no significant difference in production efficiency between higher and lower business risk audit engagements. Results based on audit fees data for audit engagements carried out shortly before and after BRA approach implementation show that overall production efficiency significantly improves. Importantly, while this improvement is significant for lower-risk audit engagements, there is no significant improvement for higher-risk audit engagements. In the context of this study's research site, this is consistent with the BRA approach addressing inefficiencies created when lower-risk audit engagements are being over-audited. That is, the BRA approach can result in both risk-adjusted and more efficiently produced audits. With the re-emergence of the BRA approach in the literature and in practice, this study provides empirical evidence to support the claim that this audit approach can lead to ‘creating auditing efficiencies’ (Bell et al., 1997, p. 1).

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)734-782
Number of pages49
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2019
Externally publishedYes


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