This study examines the rarely investigated association between institutional ownership and income smoothing. The results support the predicted positive association between institutional ownership and the likelihood of firms smoothing earnings towards their earnings trend in general. However, this association is not systematic across all firms. The positive association is most evident among profit firms with pre‐managed earnings above their earnings trend. No significant association is found for profit firms with pre‐managed earnings below their earnings trend and loss firms in general. This study also finds that, in Australia, while institutional ownership has a non‐linear association with income increasing earnings management (Koh, 2003), such association manifests itself within the income smoothing framework. The results of this study highlight the complexities in the association between institutional ownership and earnings management strategies, and future research can benefit by explicitly examining the trade‐offs between alternative earnings management incentives and the factors that affect the relative strength of these incentive trade‐offs.
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