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Article
Publication date: 10 September 2020

Su-Jane Hsieh, Yuli Su and Chun-Chia Amy Chang

Managers of defined-benefit (DB) firms have considerable discretion in deriving pension costs and flexibility in cash contributions to pension plans. Pension accruals

Abstract

Purpose

Managers of defined-benefit (DB) firms have considerable discretion in deriving pension costs and flexibility in cash contributions to pension plans. Pension accruals occur when cash contributions differ from pension costs. The manipulable nature of pension costs and cash contributions allows managers of DB firms to manipulate pension accruals to achieve their desired earnings. We study whether DB firms with earnings management attributes (referred to as suspect DB firms) used more discretionary pension accruals (DPA) than non-suspect DB firms, especially after the passage of Sarbanes-Oxley (SOX).

Design/methodology/approach

The authors develop an aggregate measure of DPA to capture overall earnings management in pension accounting. They then employ a multivariate regression model to study whether the suspect DB firms engage in more DPA than non-suspect firms and to assess the impact of SOX on DPA for all DB firms and for suspect DB firms.

Findings

The authors find evidence that suspect firms inflate DPA to achieve their earnings goals and also that all DB firms and the suspect firms use more DPA in the post-SOX era compared to the pre-SOX period. In contrast, they observe no significant difference in real activities earnings management (REM) between suspect and non-suspect firms. In addition, neither the entire sample of DB firms nor the suspect firms display a significant change in REM after SOX.

Research limitations/implications

The samples in the study are limited to firms with defined pension plans; thus, the findings cannot be generalized to all firms. In addition, as in other empirical studies relying on models to estimate earnings management proxies, this study inherits estimation errors from Jones and Roychowdhury's models. Consequently, the impact of these estimation errors cannot be ruled out.

Practical implications

The empirical findings of the study appear that instead of deterring DB firms from engaging in pension accruals earnings management, enacting the stringent anti-fraud SOX prompts these firms to rely more on accrual-based discretionary pension rather than switch to real activities manipulation to manage earnings.

Originality/value

While many prior studies focus on the impact of managing individual pension assumptions on earnings, the authors study overall earnings management in pension accounting by developing a model to derive an aggregate measure of pension earnings management.

Details

Journal of Applied Accounting Research, vol. 22 no. 1
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0967-5426

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Article
Publication date: 14 May 2018

Mohammad Alhadab and Thang Nguyen

This study aims to examine the non-linear relationship between corporate diversification and real and accrual earnings management, using a sample of 5,659 US firm-year…

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1144

Abstract

Purpose

This study aims to examine the non-linear relationship between corporate diversification and real and accrual earnings management, using a sample of 5,659 US firm-year observations for 1,221 firms covering the period from 2001 to 2012.

Design/methodology/approach

The authors use various techniques and regressions to test the hypotheses. Following prior research, several proxies have been used to measure diversification, accrual earnings management and real earnings management.

Findings

The study produces several important findings. First, the study provides evidence that diversified firms engage in real and accrual earnings management to manage their reported earnings upward. These results are consistent with recent research (Farooqi et al., 2014; Jirapon et al., 2008) that finds that diversified firms engage in earnings manipulation. Second, and most importantly, the study contributes to the literature by providing the first evidence on a non-linear relationship between corporate diversification and earnings management. Specifically, the study provides evidence that diversified firms engage in accrual (real) earnings management, but this engagement is associated with level of diversification in a non-linear U-shaped (inverted U-shaped) relationship.

Research limitations/implications

Like all other studies, the current study has some limitations. The study was conducted only on the largest firms in the USA that have market capitalization of more than US$10m; hence, the findings may not be generalizable to small publicly traded firms. Further, the findings may not be generalizable to other markets, given the unique characteristics of US markets such as the presence of very sophisticated investors.

Practical implications

This study provides some important implications for US regulators to revise their regulations to prevent diversified firms from using earnings management to manipulate reported earnings.

Originality/value

This study is the first in the USA to examine the non-linear relationship between corporate diversification and earnings management. The study focuses on one of the most active, most attractive and largest capital markets throughout the world, that of the USA. Also, this study is one of the few studies that examine whether diversified firms use real activities manipulation to manage their reported earnings.

Details

Review of Accounting and Finance, vol. 17 no. 2
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1475-7702

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Article
Publication date: 13 March 2019

Guannan Wang and Moshe Hagigi

Most prior literature focuses on how managers’ immediate needs affect their current earnings management. The purpose of this paper is to expand this body of literature by…

Abstract

Purpose

Most prior literature focuses on how managers’ immediate needs affect their current earnings management. The purpose of this paper is to expand this body of literature by investigating the managerial motivation in a multi-period setting. The authors believe that managers’ incentive to engage in earning management around current equity issues is not only determined by the companies’ immediate need, but that it is also determined by their longer-term financing need.

Design/methodology/approach

The authors examine all issuances of common stock, whether they are issued as seasoned equity offerings or whether as a reissuance of previously repurchased stock. They believe that the motivations for earnings management are similar for all these various stock-issuance events, which result in an increase in the number of outstanding common stock items.

Findings

The results of this paper reveal that those firms with less of a need for subsequent equity issuances are more likely to engage in “income- increasing” earnings management before their equity issuances. Conversely, equity issuers with more of a need for subsequent equity issuances would be more concerned about the potential impact of current earnings management on their future reported earnings and, therefore, would be less likely to manage earnings.

Originality/value

This paper contributes to the literature by extending the findings of the prior literature, showing that managerial discretion does not only affect the total magnitude of earnings management, but that it also impacts the timing of the earnings management activities. Insights gained from our research may contribute to the literature and enable a better understanding of firms’ financial reporting strategy from a longer-run view.

Details

Review of Accounting and Finance, vol. 18 no. 1
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1475-7702

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Article
Publication date: 3 January 2017

Wael Mostafa

This paper aims to examine the association between earnings management and the value relevance of earnings (the latter is operationalized by earnings response…

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2890

Abstract

Purpose

This paper aims to examine the association between earnings management and the value relevance of earnings (the latter is operationalized by earnings response coefficient). Specifically, this study examines whether opportunistic earnings management has a negative impact on the value relevance of earnings for a sample of firms listed on the Egyptian Stock Exchange.

Design/methodology/approach

Different from prior work and due to data limitations in the Egyptian market, this paper first examines for the existence of earnings management based on the whole operating performances of the firms by testing whether firms with low/poor operating performance are more likely to choose income-increasing actions (strategies) than firms with high operating performance. After confirming that low operating performance firms manage earnings upward, the authors then assess whether this opportunistic earnings management by these low operating performance firms reduces the value relevance of earnings. This is performed by estimating a model of the relationship between stock returns and accounting earnings with a dummy variable that allows parameter shifts for earnings of low operating performance firms.

Findings

The results show that discretionary accruals are positive and significantly higher for firms with low operating performance than those for firms with high operating performance. These results indicate that low operating performance firms increase the earnings management practices by probably increasing their reported earnings opportunistically to mask their low performance. Furthermore, the results show that the earnings response coefficient is significantly smaller for earnings of low operating performance firms than that for earnings of high operating performance firms. These results suggest that earnings of firms with low operating performance (that are engaged in opportunistic earnings management strategies) have less value relevance than earnings of firms with high operating performance, i.e. the informativeness of managed earnings is lower than that of non-managed earnings.

Practical implications

Based on these results, it is plausible that the presence of opportunistic earnings management adversely affects the value relevance of accounting earnings.

Originality/value

Consistent with previous results from developed countries, this study shows that earnings management is a significant factor that affects value relevance of earnings in Egypt.

Details

Managerial Auditing Journal, vol. 32 no. 1
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0268-6902

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Article
Publication date: 6 November 2017

Talie Kassamany, Salma Ibrahim and Stuart Archbold

This study aims to investigate the occurrence of pre-merger earnings management for a sample of 197 stock- and cash-financed UK acquirers between 1990 and 2009. It also…

Abstract

Purpose

This study aims to investigate the occurrence of pre-merger earnings management for a sample of 197 stock- and cash-financed UK acquirers between 1990 and 2009. It also examines the earnings management behaviour around the change in the Corporate Governance Code in 2003 based on the Higgs recommendations.

Design/methodology/approach

Mean and median accrual- and real-based manipulation are examined in the period before the announcement of a merger and acquisition. These are compared across stock and cash acquirers as well as before and after the implementation of the Higgs recommendations. Logistic regressions are also run to examine accrual- and real-based manipulation across stock and cash acquirers after controlling for variables that may affect the acquisition type.

Findings

The study found some evidence of upward pre-merger accrual-based earnings management by stock-financed acquirers, which is in line with the findings of Botsari and Meeks (2008). Furthermore, no significant changes were found in the post-Higgs period, which indicates that the recommendations put forth by Higgs may not have been successful in mitigating earnings management. The evidence also shows that cash bidders engage in pre-merger real earnings manipulation through lower discretionary expenses, possibly to enhance cash availability for the bid.

Practical implications

The findings in this study confirm earnings management exists around mergers and acquisitions and provide some evidence that the recommendations set out in the Higgs Report do not appear to have mitigated earnings management activities. This is of interest to regulators as well as investors and academicians.

Originality/value

This provides the first analysis in the UK examining the use of real-based earnings management activities by UK acquirers. It also extends prior research around corporate governance changes that occurred in the UK.

Details

Journal of Accounting & Organizational Change, vol. 13 no. 4
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1832-5912

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Article
Publication date: 18 September 2009

Ruth W. Epps and Tariq H. Ismail

The purpose of this paper is to examine the relationship between corporate governance and earnings management in US context and provide further insights on the effects of…

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3255

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to examine the relationship between corporate governance and earnings management in US context and provide further insights on the effects of board of directors' characteristics on earnings management.

Design/methodology/approach

The paper uses a sample of three groups of US firms; where firms with relatively high negative, firms with relatively high positive, and those with low levels of discretionary accruals in the year 2004 are examined. Descriptive statistics, univariate analysis, multivariate analysis, board of directors' characteristics, and possible relationships between corporate governance variables and earnings management proxy provide the basis for discussion.

Findings

Firms with annually elected boards, small size boards, 100 percent independent nominating committees, and 100 percent independent compensation committees have more negative discretionary accruals. However, firms with 75‐90 percent independent board or firms with a board size of between nine and 12 have higher positive discretionary accruals.

Research limitations/implications

Certain board characteristics may be the important factors associated with constraining the propensity of managers to engage in earnings management.

Practical implications

Results are limited by the accuracy of the models applied to isolate discretionary accruals. Additionally, the direction diverse of discretionary accruals may differ with selecting a time series of three or more years as a base for the analysis.

Originality/value

In contrast to prior literature, where board composition is defined as an insiders‐ or outsiders‐controlled board, this paper classifies board composition into seven discrete categories, using the same seven categories employed by Institutional Shareholder Services in evaluating and assigning corporate governance quotient scores to firms. The paper's major contributions to the existing literature are its findings that income‐increasing and income‐decreasing discretionary accruals have a different relationship with corporate governance practices and its expansion of the scope of corporate governance from board independence and audit committee independence to other corporate governance characteristics. This paper provides evidence that supports US regulators' initiatives that stronger corporate governance mechanisms provide greater monitoring of the financial accounting process and may be the important factors in improving the integrity of financial reporting.

Details

Journal of Accounting & Organizational Change, vol. 5 no. 3
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1832-5912

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Article
Publication date: 6 February 2017

Sudip Datta, Mai Iskandar-Datta and Vivek Singh

The purpose of this paper is to add an important new dimension to the earnings management literature by establishing a link between idiosyncratic risk and the degree of…

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to add an important new dimension to the earnings management literature by establishing a link between idiosyncratic risk and the degree of accrual management.

Design/methodology/approach

Based on a comprehensive sample of 44,599 firm-year observations during the period spanning 1987-2009, the study offers robust empirical evidence of the importance of firm-specific idiosyncratic volatility as a determinant of earnings manipulation. The authors use standard measures of earnings management and idiosyncratic volatility. The authors test the hypotheses with robust econometrics techniques.

Findings

The authors document a strong positive relationship between idiosyncratic risk and accruals management. Further, the authors find a positive association between residual volatility and discretionary accruals whether accruals are income inflationary or income deflationary. The findings are robust to alternate idiosyncratic risk proxies and variables associated with earnings management.

Originality/value

Overall, the knowledge derived from this study provides additional tools to assess the degree of earnings management by firms, and hence the quality of the financial reporting. Thus the findings will enable standard setters, financial market regulators, analysts, and investors to make more informed legislative, regulatory, resource allocation, and investment decisions.

Details

International Journal of Managerial Finance, vol. 13 no. 1
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1743-9132

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Article
Publication date: 5 May 2015

Masumi Nakashima and David A. Ziebart

– The purpose of this paper is to investigate whether Japanese Sarbanes – Oxley Act (J-SOX) impacted earnings management and earnings quality of public firms in Japan.

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1432

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to investigate whether Japanese Sarbanes – Oxley Act (J-SOX) impacted earnings management and earnings quality of public firms in Japan.

Design/methodology/approach

This archival study compares earnings management and earnings quality of firms that disclose at least one material weakness with a sample matched on size and industry without a material weakness.

Findings

The authors investigate whether the differences in regulations, corporate governance and regulatory environment acceptance influence earnings management and earnings management of Japanese listed firms, relative to findings in the USA. They found the Japanese results to be slightly different from the results found in previous USA studies. First, the time-series observations suggest that while accruals management and real earnings management remained unchanged for control firms, accruals management and real earnings management increased for material weaknesses disclosing firms following J-SOX. The regression analyses suggest that accruals management for both the groups is significant in the pre-and post-J-SOX periods, but that real earnings management declined for both the groups post-J-SOX. Second, while, both accruals quality and accuracy of cash flow predictions improved in the post-J-SOX period.

Research limitations/implications

The sample of Japanese firms disclosing a material weakness is small because the number of firms that disclose internal control deficiencies is decreasing in Japan. The authors have no evidence that their results are not generalizable to a larger sample and leave this for future research.

Practical implications

The authors provide evidence that J-SOX, which does not have a direct reporting system, does not constrain earnings management. Their results drive the regulator to reconsider whether the reporting system works in the Japanese business environment. Additionally, their results show that J-SOX has no effect on earnings management; thus, regulators need to reconsider the governance function of directors and internal auditors. This paper communicates to the world how J-SOX works in Japan through changes in earnings quality and management post J-SOX and the root problems.

Originality/value

This paper is the first (of which the authors are aware) to examine whether J-SOX impacted both earnings management and earnings quality in Japan. This paper discusses how the differences in regulations and corporate governance as well as the differences between USA-SOX and J-SOX may explain the results observed in Japan. This paper provides results regarding whether J-SOX improved earnings quality.

Details

Managerial Auditing Journal, vol. 30 no. 4/5
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0268-6902

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Article
Publication date: 3 September 2018

Mohammad Alhadab

This paper aims to examine the relationship between abnormal audit fees and accrual-based and real-based earnings management by using a sample of 1,055 UK firm-year…

Abstract

Purpose

This paper aims to examine the relationship between abnormal audit fees and accrual-based and real-based earnings management by using a sample of 1,055 UK firm-year observations from 2006 to 2015.

Design/methodology/approach

Linear regression was used to test the hypothetical relation between abnormal audit fees and accrual and real earnings management. Following prior research, several proxies have been used to measure abnormal audit fees, accrual earnings management and real earnings management.

Findings

Abnormal audit fees were negatively associated with real earnings management. A higher level of abnormal audit fees was the major driver of enhanced audit quality, in turn reducing managers’ flexibility to use real earnings management and to manipulate reported earnings. Abnormal audit fees were found to be negatively associated with abnormal discretionary expenses, abnormal production costs and the aggregated measure of real earnings management.

Practical implications

This paper outlines the importance of considering any abnormal audit fees paid to audit firms. It is expected that the abnormal audit fees might compromise auditor independence and lead to a higher level of earnings management. However, the findings of this paper provide a new insight to many interested parties, e.g. regulators, audit firms, investors and creditors, that abnormal audit fees are associated with higher audit quality and higher financial reporting quality in the UK. Regulators in the meanwhile should reform the audit market by, e.g. revising the types of non-audit services that are provided for the same client, setting a cap on the maximum fees that can charged by auditors and monitoring earnings management practices. Audit firms should take into consideration that any charged abnormal level of audit fees may have a direct impact on audit quality.

Originality/value

This is the first study to examine the impact of abnormal audit fees on accruals and real earnings management after major regulatory changes that took place in the UK. These major changes are the adoption of the International Financial Reporting Standards in 2005 and the new legislation concerning the ethical standards issued by the UK Audit Practice Board in 2004. These two major changes are expected to have a direct impact on both earnings management and audit fees, notably for the largest public listed firms. This study also focuses on one of the very developed and attractive stock markets in the world, the UK FTSE 350 stock index, that incorporates that largest 350 public firms.

Details

Journal of Financial Reporting and Accounting, vol. 16 no. 3
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1985-2517

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Article
Publication date: 24 August 2021

Kyung Soon Kim, Jin Hwon Lee and Yun W. Park

This study examines acquirers' earnings management in intragroup mergers to investigate whether stock-for-stock mergers between affiliated firms within the same…

Abstract

Purpose

This study examines acquirers' earnings management in intragroup mergers to investigate whether stock-for-stock mergers between affiliated firms within the same family-controlled business group facilitate the controlling shareholder's rent seeking. Specifically, it investigates the acquiring firm's incentive to inflate premerger-announcement earnings in intragroup mergers given the controlling shareholder's relative equity holdings in the target and acquiring firms. The authors also examine how creditor monitoring affects premerger-announcement earnings in intragroup mergers compared to mergers between independent firms.

Design/methodology/approach

Using univariate analysis, panel regression based on accruals and cross-sectional regression based on discretionary accruals, the authors compare earnings management in mergers between affiliated firms with that in mergers between independent firms in the context of Korean business groups. The authors also compare the effects of creditors on earnings management in both cases.

Findings

Acquirers' premerger-announcement positive abnormal accruals are less evident in mergers between affiliated firms than in mergers between independent firms. These accruals decrease with high financial leverage only in the latter case, suggesting that creditor monitoring mitigates earnings management only in independent firm mergers.

Originality/value

The authors examine intragroup mergers, unlike previous studies, which focus on unaffiliated firm mergers. They also contribute to the literature on stock-for-stock mergers, showing that lender monitoring can mitigate the acquiring firm's premerger earnings management in unaffiliated firm mergers but not in intragroup mergers. These findings suggest that stock-for-stock mergers between affiliated firms may facilitate the controlling shareholders' rent seeking, which has policy implications for emerging markets with large family-controlled business groups.

Details

Managerial Finance, vol. 48 no. 1
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0307-4358

Keywords

1 – 10 of over 2000