On the demand for historical events recording and maintenance of audit trails

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date

Fall 1989




In decentralized economies with transaction costs in contracting, it is demonstrated that an endogenous demand exists for the recording of events that affect the firm's value (“historical events”) and for the perpetual maintenance of audit trails to those records. A demand for the aggregation of records into reports (such as the financial statements) is derived from the costliness of the design, implementation and processing of contracts based on the primary data. But if principals do not control the recording or the reporting process, the agents will distort both the records and reports to their advantage. This gives rise to a demand for auditing services, which in turn creates a demand for audit trails, the causal links to verifiable facts underlying the records. Due to the costs of verification, with sufficient penalties and a positive probability of detection, random sample verification is as efficient as exhaustive verification. For random sample verification to be effective, the maintenance of audit trails for the life of the firm is necessary.

Source Publication

Contemporary Accounting Research

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