From clear to complicated: Buying and selling accounting services post Sarbanes-Oxley

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While much has been said and written about the effect of the 2002 Sarbanes-Oxley Act (SOX), one consequence of the new regulation that has been largely neglected is the law's dramatic impact on how audits are bought and sold in the United States. Prior to SOX, the process was clear and simple: accounting firm partners would meet with the publicly held client company's C-level executives to complete the exchange. When SOX was passed, Congress took the buying decision out of the hands of the client company's executives and placed it in the hands of the company's external audit committee. As this inter-disciplinary research will explain, this change-and other similar changes emanating from the " independence" provisions in SOX-has forever complicated the client-auditor exchange. Based on the literature in business-to-business selling, this research proposes two models-one centered around the concept of a " buying center" and another around " selling team" theory-in an effort to advance thinking in this area, and help both client companies and accounting firms operate in this new environment. © 2010 Kelley School of Business, Indiana University.

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Business Horizons