Parables, Myths and Risks: Volume 20

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Table of contents

(8 chapters)

Prelims

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Abstract

This study examines the relation between internal control material weakness (ICMW) under Section 404 of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act (SOX) and real earnings management. Our measures of real earnings management are abnormal cash flow from operations (ABCFOs), abnormal discretionary expenses (ABDISEXP), and abnormal production cost (ABPROD). We use a sample of 1,824 manufacturing firms over the period 2004–2011 to run regressions of ABCFO, ABDISEXP, and ABPROD on ICMW and other independent variables. We find that ICMW is negatively associated with ABCFOs. Another result that emerges from this study is a positive relation between ICMW and ABPROD. Our results imply that manufacturing firms with materially weak internal controls predominantly use overproduction and excessive price discounts to manage operational activities to achieve earnings targets. As SOX Section 404 is designed to reduce the instances of firms having ICMW, our finding that ICMW firms engage in real earnings management suggests that the use of real earnings management could be reduced as SOX Section 404 succeeds in reducing ICMW.

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The purpose of this paper is to develop a comprehensive theory as to why academic research in accounting is said not to help practice.

The authors (1) present a comprehensive literature review in the academic/practitioner gap arena, and (2) develop a theoretical background for it. Further, they identify (3) the different information needs of these groups using value group theory and (4) the inherent factors and personality traits that influence career choice. Next, they (5) evaluate the values of each subgroup. They then (6) theorize what types of accounting research would interest each. They argue that (7) individuals who enter the academy differ from those who enter practice, and (8) the socialization processes and the impact of the professional setting (practice or academe) on behaviors further the separation of academic research from practitioner needs.

This paper is theoretical. It suggests that bridging the gap will be difficult. The study is theoretical. The limitation is that it does not empirically test the relationships hypothesized. By providing a comprehensive model of factors underlying the gap, however, it can be a fruitful source of research ideas for years to come. The implications are that it will be difficult to bridge the gap between accounting practitioners and academics. Having a greater understanding of the causes of the gap, however, may be very useful in fostering thought as to how to overcome it.

Prior literature on the topic is largely atheoretical. This paper is the first to develop a broad theory of the gap.

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The typical unqualified audit report of publicly traded firms in the United States indicates the nature of the audit and an opinion that the firm’s financial statements fairly present the financial position and the results of operations of the audited company. Accordingly, some users of the financial statements, including investors, do not consider the unqualified opinion to be very useful in providing other informational value about the particular audit. In this paper, the authors examined the views of two stakeholders in the US financial reporting system, auditors in large public accounting firms and Chief Financial Officers (CFOs) in the Fortune 1000. The authors elicited their perceptions involving a Public Company Accounting Oversight Board (PCAOB) proposed auditing standard commonly referred to as “the other information standard.” This standard, if adopted, would require the auditor to evaluate information other than the audited financial statements and the related audit report for (1) a material inconsistency, (2) a material misstatement of fact, or (3) both, and if they exist, communicate them in the auditor’s report. The authors developed their research instrument based upon its perceived potential effects on the audit if adopted, some of which were referenced in the exposure draft of the proposed standard (PCAOB, 2013). They found that a majority of each groups believed, among other effects, that the proposed standard would increase audit costs, subject both the auditor and the reporting firm to increased litigation risk, and that its implementation costs by affected firms would exceed any benefits to financial statement users created by the standard.

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This study investigates the tax evasion practices in a lower-middle income economy in South Asia, with specific reference to Bangladesh (which is the only economy within South Asia that had consistent 6% and above gross domestic product (GDP) growth from 2011 to 2013). This study adopted mixed methodology (documentary analyses and a focus group interviews with 20 participants) to reach the overall objective of the research. Using Hofstede et al.’s (2010) cultural theory, the contribution of the study is that the cultural dimension itself cannot correspond to the causes of tax evasion, the other institutional factors (e.g., political connectedness in both private and public sectors, multinational companies (MNC)’s role and corruption, and a lack of public sector accountability and enforcement) are needed to complement the causes of tax evasion. The second major contribution is that Hofstede’s last two dimensions (i.e., short-term and restraint society) can correspond to the preliminary four dimensions (i.e., uncertainty avoidance (UA), masculinity, power distance (PD), and individualism). A restraint society such as Bangladesh is short-term oriented and has established corruption norms and secretive culture. There is also a perception by corporate business that the tax system as unfair and this has major consequences for the poor and the level of trust between the tax authorities and the taxpayers. This study also questions Hofstede’s model application in other developing economies with military and democracy political regimes. The major policy implications include Income Tax Ordinance, the reform of tax administration and enforcement. The novelty of this study rests in the fact that the findings may well inform local and international policymakers (e.g., World Bank, International Monetary Fund (IMF), Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), and the Asian Development Bank (ADB)) regarding how to tackle tax evasion practices in lower-middle income economies like Bangladesh. Further, it fills a gap in the literature exploring tax evasion in a lower-middle income economy – in this case, Bangladesh.

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This paper presents an institutional theory framework integrating normative, regulatory and cognitive-cultural pillars (Scott, 2008) to depict an interinstitutional system within which professions operate and develop. The pillars highlight the trade-offs between institutions leading to conflicts of interest that also impact the stability of the system and the ability of the profession to self-regulate. To illustrate the framework, the paper uses selected accounting-based professions and their alignment with the institutional pillars. Drawing from examples emerging from the Enron experience, the paper delves more deeply into the regulatory profession and professionals as agents to explore implications of their role in interpreting and in some instances developing institutions. Further, the paper highlights the potential fissures that emerge in a competitive environment between the public interest and market-based cognitive-cultural pillars that tends to erode public trust and weaken the institutional system, leading to the need for increased regulation to maintain the stability of the pillars. Overall, the framework presents a unique perspective on the role of public interest as a component of the normative pillar in aligning and thereby, stabilizing the functioning of the interinstitutional system. This perspective provides a basis to contextualize and articulate a public interest perspective for the accounting profession in an interinstitutional system.

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Accounting’s definition of accountability should include attributes of socioenvironmental degradation manufactured by unsustainable technologies. Beck argues that emergent accounts should reflect the following primary characteristics of technological degradation: complexity, uncertainty, and diffused responsibility. Financial stewardship accounts and probabilistic assessments of risk, which are traditionally employed to allay the public’s fear of uncontrollable technological hazards, cannot reflect these characteristics because they are constructed to perpetuate the status quo by fabricating certainty and security. The process through which safety thresholds are constructed and contested represents the ultimate form of socialized accountability because these thresholds shape how much risk people consent to be exposed to. Beck’s socialized total accountability is suggested as a way forward: It has two dimensions, extended spatiotemporal responsibility and the psychology of decision-making. These dimensions are teased out from the following constructs of Beck’s Risk Society thesis: manufactured risks and hazards, organized irresponsibility, politics of risk, radical individualization and social learning. These dimensions are then used to critically evaluate the capacity of full cost accounting (FCA), and two emergent socialized risk accounts, to integrate the multiple attributes of sustainability. This critique should inform the journey of constructing more representative accounts of technological degradation.

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Cover of Parables, Myths and Risks
DOI
10.1108/S1041-7060201720
Publication date
2017-07-18
Book series
Advances in Public Interest Accounting
Editor
Series copyright holder
Emerald Publishing Limited
ISBN
978-1-78714-534-4
Book series ISSN
1041-7060