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What can auditors tell us about accounting manipulations?

Zeljana Aljinovic Barac (Sveuciliste u Splitu Ekonomski fakultet, Split, Croatia)
Tina Vuko (Sveuciliste u Splitu Ekonomski fakultet, Split, Croatia)
Slavko Šodan (Sveuciliste u Splitu Ekonomski fakultet, Split, Croatia)

Managerial Auditing Journal

ISSN: 0268-6902

Article publication date: 19 September 2017

Issue publication date: 25 September 2017




This paper aims to examine the frequency and the nature of International Financial Reporting Standards/International Accounting Standards (IFRS/IAS) violations that resulted in modified audit opinions (MAOs); determinants of MAO decision; and underlying motives, targets and techniques of accounting manipulations.


Descriptive statistics and in-depth investigation on archival data collected from the published audit reports are used to analyse the frequency and the nature of IFRS violations that resulted in MAOs, while the logistic regression is applied to identify the possible determinants of MAO decisions. A survey instrument is used to identify the relative importance of different manipulation motives, targets and techniques from the perspective of an external auditor.


Results from the archival research show that MAOs are expressed in 29% of audit reports of listed companies in Croatia. A majority of the qualifications refer to noncompliance with provisions of IAS 39, IAS 16, IAS 1, IAS 2 and IAS 36. The survey results show that manipulations are principally oriented towards creditors, tax authorities and suppliers with the intention to hide bad performance, get better terms of crediting and minimize fiscal and political costs. Results from the field study complement and confirm the archival research results in respect to the accounting areas and techniques used for manipulation purposes.


The analysis provides a rather robust estimation of the extent of accounting manipulations, compared to commonly used earnings management metrics. Application of multi-method research that integrates archival research and field study offers significant contribution to the existing earnings management literature in methodological approach. The results directly address particular provisions of the IFRS that are frequently violated and provide better understanding of the features of accounting manipulations in a specific institutional setting.



Aljinovic Barac, Z., Vuko, T. and Šodan, S. (2020), "What can auditors tell us about accounting manipulations?", Managerial Auditing Journal, Vol. 32 No. 8, pp. 788-809.



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