A measurement approach to conservatism and earnings management
AbstractThis paper formalizes a two-step representation of accounting measurement and uses it to formalize a general rationale for conservatism as a measurement principle. A transaction's economic substance manifests itself in characteristics of the transaction, and an accounting rule is a mapping from transaction characteristics to an accounting report. Managers who have stakes in the accounting report are able to influence transaction characteristics. Such earnings management is ex post rational for managers but ex ante inefficient. To safeguard against such ex post opportunism, the optimal ex ante accounting rule is conservative in the sense that it requires more verification of the transaction characteristics favorable to managers. Thus, this rationale for conservatism is as general as the managers' ability and incentive to inflate transaction characteristics. By opening the black box of accounting measurement, the two-step representation also formalizes some classic accounting concepts, such as relevance, reliability, verifiability, verification, and accounting-motivated transactions.
Download InfoIf you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.
Bibliographic InfoArticle provided by Elsevier in its journal Journal of Accounting and Economics.
Volume (Year): 55 (2013)
Issue (Month): 2 ()
Contact details of provider:
Web page: http://www.elsevier.com/locate/jae
Conservatism; Verifiability; Relevance; Reliability; Earnings management; Debt contract;
Find related papers by JEL classification:
- G32 - Financial Economics - - Corporate Finance and Governance - - - Financing Policy; Financial Risk and Risk Management; Capital and Ownership Structure; Value of Firms; Goodwill
- K22 - Law and Economics - - Regulation and Business Law - - - Business and Securities Law
- M41 - Business Administration and Business Economics; Marketing; Accounting - - Accounting - - - Accounting
- M42 - Business Administration and Business Economics; Marketing; Accounting - - Accounting - - - Auditing
- M48 - Business Administration and Business Economics; Marketing; Accounting - - Accounting - - - Government Policy and Regulation
Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:
- Zhang, Jieying, 2008. "The contracting benefits of accounting conservatism to lenders and borrowers," Journal of Accounting and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 45(1), pages 27-54, March.
- Townsend, Robert M., 1979.
"Optimal contracts and competitive markets with costly state verification,"
Journal of Economic Theory,
Elsevier, vol. 21(2), pages 265-293, October.
- Robert Townsend, 1979. "Optimal contracts and competitive markets with costly state verification," Staff Report 45, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis.
- Frank Gigler & Chandra Kanodia & Haresh Sapra & Raghu Venugopalan, 2009. "Accounting Conservatism and the Efficiency of Debt Contracts," Journal of Accounting Research, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 47(3), pages 767-797, 06.
- Dechow, Patricia M. & Kothari, S. P. & L. Watts, Ross, 1998. "The relation between earnings and cash flows," Journal of Accounting and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 25(2), pages 133-168, May.
- S.P. Kothari & Karthik Ramanna & Douglas J. Skinner, 2009. "Implications for GAAP from an Analysis of Positive Research in Accounting," Harvard Business School Working Papers 09-137, Harvard Business School, revised Sep 2010.
- Aghion, Philippe & Bolton, Patrick, 1992. "An Incomplete Contracts Approach to Financial Contracting," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 59(3), pages 473-94, July.
- Hans B. Christensen & Valeri V. Nikolaev, 2012. "Capital Versus Performance Covenants in Debt Contracts," Journal of Accounting Research, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 50(1), pages 75-116, 03.
- Mark Bagnoli & Susan G. Watts, 2005. "Conservative Accounting Choices," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 51(5), pages 786-801, May.
- Watts, Ross L & Zimmerman, Jerold L, 1983. "Agency Problems, Auditing, and the Theory of the Firm: Some Evidence," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 26(3), pages 613-33, October.
- Ronald A. Dye, 1986. "Optimal Monitoring Policies in Agencies," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 17(3), pages 339-350, Autumn.
- Qi Chen & Thomas Hemmer & Yun Zhang, 2007. "On the Relation between Conservatism in Accounting Standards and Incentives for Earnings Management," Journal of Accounting Research, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 45(3), pages 541-565, 06.
- Lambert, Richard A., 2001. "Contracting theory and accounting," Journal of Accounting and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 32(1-3), pages 3-87, December.
- Christian Leuz, 1998. "The role of accrual accounting in restricting dividends to shareholders," European Accounting Review, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 7(4), pages 579-604.
- Ball, Ray & Kothari, S. P. & Robin, Ashok, 2000. "The effect of international institutional factors on properties of accounting earnings," Journal of Accounting and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 29(1), pages 1-51, February.
- Göx, Robert F. & Wagenhofer, Alfred, 2009. "Optimal impairment rules," Journal of Accounting and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 48(1), pages 2-16, October.
- Dan Dacian Cuzdriorean, 2013. "Most Recent Findings In Earnings Management Area: Interesting Insights From Traditionally Top 5 Leading Accounting Journals," Annales Universitatis Apulensis Series Oeconomica, Faculty of Sciences, "1 Decembrie 1918" University, Alba Iulia, vol. 2(15), pages 5.
For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Zhang, Lei).
If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.