Date of Award

Spring 5-15-2018

Author's School

Graduate School of Arts and Sciences

Author's Department

Business Administration

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Degree Type



Essays in audit market, enforcement actions, and voluntary disclosures


Seong Jin Ahn

Doctor of Philosophy in Business Administration

Washington University in St. Louis, 2018

Professor Richard Frankel, Chair

This dissertation is comprised of three empirical essays relating to audit market, SEC enforcement actions, and voluntary disclosure. The first essay investigates the effects of auditor office location on client and auditor surplus. Using a two-sided matching market model, I find that, while both clients and auditors bear the costs of geographic distance, auditors disproportionately bear costs. Although distance exerts costs on clients, clients incur distance costs to gain auditor expertise. Next, I examine how the stickiness of audit office locations affects equilibrium audit market matches. The immobility of audit office locations results in a market-wide surplus loss of 1.6%, and leaves 8% of clients worse off. In addition, by aggregating individual client-auditor surplus at the MSA and state level, I find that in underserved regions, clients are more likely to choose their second-best auditors, and auditors are more likely to extract rents from clients. Finally, relocating audit offices in overserved regions, such as Detroit and Cincinnati, to underserved regions, such as Austin and Houston, improves market-wide surplus, and therefore, leaves clients and auditors in both regions better off. Overall, this paper contributes to the literature by highlighting how an audit market friction (stickiness in audit office location) affects surplus and auditor matches.

The second essay examines whether SEC insider trading charges deter illegal insider trading activity among non-targeted insider employed by firms in the same industry. The second essay is co-authored with Jared Jennings. Using a hand-collected sample of SEC insider trading charges, we find that non-targeted insiders at peer firms execute less profitable non-routine purchases following the disclosure of the SEC insider trading charges. We find that the insider non-routine purchase results are concentrated among non-targeted insiders at peer firms that are geographically closer to the targeted firm. We find no consistent evidence that non-targeted insiders at peer firms execute less profitable non-routine sales after SEC insider trading charges are filed. These results provide evidence on the effectiveness of SEC enforcement actions on deterring questionable insider trading activities.

Lastly, the third essay examines the implications of unbundled management forecast news for future earnings and returns. This third essay is co-authored with Zachary Kaplan and Salman Arif. We find that positive (negative) management forecast news predicts higher (lower) unexpected earnings over the upcoming year, but this positive predictive relation flips to negative over the following year. Further, while stock returns initially drift in the same direction as the news in the management forecast, returns begin to reverse beginning six months after the forecast and this reversal continues over the following two years. We conduct several analyses which suggest that return reversals occur because investors over-extrapolate the news from management forecasts. First, we find that positive (negative) management forecast news leads to analyst earnings forecasts that are excessively optimistic (pessimistic). Second, we find that management forecasts which are less persistent (e.g. forecasts by firms with higher earnings volatility and forecasts that convey negative news) are associated with larger return reversals. Third, we find that increasing the frequency or providing forecasts for a number of horizons mitigates the return reversals. Overall, our findings contribute to our understanding of the information conveyed by management forecasts and suggest that market participants overreact to unbundled management forecasts.


English (en)

Chair and Committee

Richard Frankel

Committee Members

Xiumin Martin, Jared Jennings, Zachary Kaplan, Tat Chan,


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