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The effect of a golden parachute on managed earnings

Nacasius U. Ujah (Department of Economics, South Dakota State University, Brookings, South Dakota, USA)
Collins E. Okafor (Department of Accounting and Finance, North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University, Greensboro, North Carolina, USA)

Managerial Finance

ISSN: 0307-4358

Article publication date: 29 May 2019

Issue publication date: 8 August 2019




The purpose of this paper is to investigate the influence of executive compensation on the propensity to manage earnings. In particular, the authors examine an executive contractual clause known as a golden parachute (hereafter GP is interchangeably used). Usually, the triggering of a GP occurs for the following reasons: in a takeover, in termination of employment, and if the executive remains with the company through a recessionary cycle. Specifically, the authors ask the following questions: for firms that their CEO have a GP, do these firms manage earnings more? Does the age of the CEO matter for firms that have adopted a GP concerning the managing earnings?


The sample is based on a review of the literature on GPs and managed earnings. the authors’ data come from COMPUSTAT, CRSP, EXECUCOMP and Risk Metrics, and consist of 1,184 US firms from 1992 to 2011. A GP is binary, whereas the authors represent managed earnings through accruals and real activity.


The authors find that the propensity to manage earnings varies on the type of methods strategically used. However, controlling for the effect of SOX reveals that GP firms are more likely to manage earnings. Younger CEOs are less likely to exacerbate earnings upward.

Research limitations/implications

The authors are limited to small sample based on when the data were collected.

Practical implications

The evidence shows that GP alleviates CEOs’ concerns on short-term profits. However, it entrenches CEOs. Particularly, CEOs with a GP are more likely to exacerbate earnings. Thus, there is a need for compensation committees to give considerable attention to how GPs are assigned.


To the authors’ knowledge, this is the first study that explores the effect of a GP on a firm’s propensity to manage earnings.



Ujah, N.U. and Okafor, C.E. (2019), "The effect of a golden parachute on managed earnings", Managerial Finance, Vol. 45 No. 7, pp. 925-949.



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