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The Economics of Earnings Manipulation and Managerial Compensation

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  • Keith J. Crocker
  • Joel Slemrod

Abstract

This paper examines managerial compensation in an environment where managers may take a hidden action that affects the actual earnings of the firm. When realized, these earnings constitute hidden information that is privately observed by the manager, who may expend resources to generate an inflated earnings report. We characterize the optimal managerial compensation contract in this setting, and demonstrate that contracts contingent on reported earnings cannot provide managers with the incentive both to maximize profits, and to report those profits honestly. As a result, some degree of earnings management must be tolerated as a necessary part of an efficient agreement.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 12645.

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Date of creation: Oct 2006
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Publication status: published as Keith J. Crocker & Joel Slemrod, 2007. "The economics of earnings manipulation and managerial compensation," RAND Journal of Economics, RAND Corporation, vol. 38(3), pages 698-713, 09.
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:12645

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  1. Guesnerie, Roger & Laffont, Jean-Jacques, 1984. "A complete solution to a class of principal-agent problems with an application to the control of a self-managed firm," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 25(3), pages 329-369, December.
  2. Gresik, Thomas A. & Nelson, Douglas R., 1994. "Incentive compatible regulation of a foreign-owned subsidiary," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 36(3-4), pages 309-331, May.
  3. Lacker, Jeffrey M & Weinberg, John A, 1989. "Optimal Contracts under Costly State Falsification," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 97(6), pages 1345-63, December.
  4. Steven Shavell, 1979. "Risk Sharing and Incentives in the Principal and Agent Relationship," Bell Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 10(1), pages 55-73, Spring.
  5. Keith J. Crocker & Joel Slemrod, 2004. "Corporate Tax Evasion with Agency Costs," NBER Working Papers 10690, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  6. Claudio Mezzetti, 2004. "Mechanism Design with Interdependent Valuations: Efficiency," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 72(5), pages 1617-1626, 09.
  7. Myerson, Roger B, 1979. "Incentive Compatibility and the Bargaining Problem," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 47(1), pages 61-73, January.
  8. Keith J. Crocker & John Morgan, 1998. "Is Honesty the Best Policy? Curtailing Insurance Fraud through Optimal Incentive Contracts," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 106(2), pages 355-375, April.
  9. Jewitt, Ian, 1988. "Justifying the First-Order Approach to Principal-Agent Problems," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 56(5), pages 1177-90, September.
  10. Mussa, Michael & Rosen, Sherwin, 1978. "Monopoly and product quality," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 18(2), pages 301-317, August.
  11. Alexander, Cindy R. & Cohen, Mark A., 1999. "Why do corporations become criminals? Ownership, hidden actions, and crime as an agency cost," Journal of Corporate Finance, Elsevier, vol. 5(1), pages 1-34, March.
  12. Myerson, Roger B., 1982. "Optimal coordination mechanisms in generalized principal-agent problems," Journal of Mathematical Economics, Elsevier, vol. 10(1), pages 67-81, June.
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Cited by:
  1. Laszlo Goerke, 2008. "Tax Overpayments, Tax Evasion, and Book-Tax Differences," Journal of Public Economic Theory, Association for Public Economic Theory, vol. 10(4), pages 643-671, 08.
  2. Brice Corgnet & Ismael Rodriguez-Lara, 2012. "Are you a Good Employee or Simply a Good Guy? Infl?uence Costs and Contract Design," Working Papers 12-02, Chapman University, Economic Science Institute.
  3. Andersson Fredrik, 2011. "Make-or-Buy Decisions and the Manipulability of Performance Measures," The B.E. Journal of Theoretical Economics, De Gruyter, vol. 11(1), pages 1-30, December.
  4. Andergassen, Rainer, 2010. "Product market competition, incentives and fraudulent behavior," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 107(2), pages 201-204, May.
  5. Sun, Bo, 2014. "Executive compensation and earnings management under moral hazard," Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control, Elsevier, vol. 41(C), pages 276-290.
  6. Robert Jones & Yan Wu, 2010. "Executive compensation, earnings management and shareholder litigation," Review of Quantitative Finance and Accounting, Springer, vol. 35(1), pages 1-20, July.

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