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Balance sheet versus earnings conservatism in Europe

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  • Juan Manuel Garcia Lara
  • Araceli Mora
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    Abstract

    In this study we extend prior research on the international analysis of accounting conservatism (Joos and Lang, 1994; Ball et al., 2000; Giner and Rees, 2001), by examining the level of accounting conservatism across eight European countries (United Kingdom, Germany, France, Switzerland, the Netherlands, Italy, Spain and Belgium), and assessing the statistical significance of the differences among them. The definitions of conservatism that we use are, on the one hand, the Feltham and Ohlson (1995) definition, which implies a persistent understatement of book value of shareholders' equity (balance sheet conservatism). On the other hand, we use the one proposed by Basu (1997), that is, a timelier recognition of bad news in earnings relative to good news (earnings conservatism). We also address the possible scale problems of the models used to measure balance sheet conservatism. Finally, we check whether our comparative results could be influenced by a different sample composition in each country. Our results show that there are both balance sheet and earnings conservatism practices in all countries under study. In addition, while continental countries show larger balance sheet conservatism, differences in earnings conservative practices between countries are not that pronounced, although they tend to be larger in the UK. We also find that the existence of balance sheet conservative practices is associated with reduced levels of earnings conservatism, which is consistent with the results in Pope and Walker (2003).

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    Bibliographic Info

    Article provided by Taylor & Francis Journals in its journal European Accounting Review.

    Volume (Year): 13 (2004)
    Issue (Month): 2 ()
    Pages: 261-292

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    Handle: RePEc:taf:euract:v:13:y:2004:i:2:p:261-292

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    8. Ivana Raonic & Stuart McLeay & Ioannis Asimakopoulos, 2004. "The Timeliness of Income Recognition by European Companies: An Analysis of Institutional and Market Complexity," Journal of Business Finance & Accounting, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 31(1-2), pages 115-148.
    9. Wendy Beekes & Peter Pope & Steven Young, 2004. "The Link Between Earnings Timeliness, Earnings Conservatism and Board Composition: evidence from the UK," Corporate Governance: An International Review, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 12(1), pages 47-59, 01.
    10. Ball, Ray & Robin, Ashok & Wu, Joanna Shuang, 2003. "Incentives versus standards: properties of accounting income in four East Asian countries," Journal of Accounting and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 36(1-3), pages 235-270, December.
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    Cited by:
    1. Ioannis Tsalavoutas & Lisa Evans, 2010. "Transition to IFRS in Greece: financial statement effects and auditor size," Managerial Auditing Journal, Emerald Group Publishing, vol. 25(8), pages 814-842, September.
    2. André, Paul & Filip, Andrei & Paugam, Luc, 2013. "Impact of Mandatory IFRS Adoption on Conditional Conservatism in Europe," ESSEC Working Papers WP1311, ESSEC Research Center, ESSEC Business School.
    3. Karampinis, Nikolaos I. & Hevas, Dimosthenis L., 2011. "Mandating IFRS in an Unfavorable Environment: The Greek Experience," The International Journal of Accounting, Elsevier, vol. 46(3), pages 304-332, September.
    4. Samira Demaria & Dominique Dufour, 2007. "First time adoption of IFRS, Fair value option, conservatism: Evidences from French listed companies," Post-Print halshs-00266189, HAL.
    5. Clare Roberts & Yue Wang, 2009. "Accounting harmonization and the value-relevance of dirty surplus accounting flows," Review of Accounting and Finance, Emerald Group Publishing, vol. 8(4), pages 340-368, November.
    6. Gérald Lobo & Luc Paugam & Lana Zhang & Jean-François Casta, 2013. "Effect Of Joint Auditor Pair On Conserv A Tism: Evidence From Impairment Tests," Post-Print hal-00993007, HAL.
    7. Araceli Mora & Ana Gisbert & Beatriz García Osma & Juan M. García Lara, 2004. "La Comparabilidad De La Información Contable En Europa: Efectos De La Manipulación Contable Sobre El Nivel De Conservadurismo," Working Papers. Serie EC 2004-14, Instituto Valenciano de Investigaciones Económicas, S.A. (Ivie).
    8. Luis Rodriguez-Dominguez & Isabel Gallego-Alvarez & Isabel Garcia-Sanchez, 2009. "Corporate Governance and Codes of Ethics," Journal of Business Ethics, Springer, vol. 90(2), pages 187-202, December.

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