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Reliability-Relevance Trade-Offs and the Efficiency of Aggregation




This paper studies how an accountant's method of aggregating information in a financial report is affected by differences in the reliability and relevance of components of the report. We study a firm that hires an accountant to produce a report that reveals information to investors regarding the returns to the firm's past investments. In constructing the report, the accountant must combine information elicited from the firm's manager with other information directly observable to the accountant. The manager's information is assumed to be directly observable only by the manager and to be of superior quality to the other information available to the accountant. Reliability-relevance trade-offs arise because as the accountant places more weight on the manager's report, potentially more useful information gets included in the report, at the cost of encouraging the manager to distort his or her information to a greater extent. Capital market participants anticipate this behavior and price the firm accordingly. We show how the market's price response to the release of the firm's aggregate report, the efficiency of the firm's investment decisions, and the manager's incentives to manipulate the soft information under his or her control are all affected by-and affect-the aggregation procedure the accountant adopts. In addition, we identify a broad range of circumstances under which aggregated reports are strictly more efficient than disaggregated reports because aggregation tempers the manager's misreporting incentives. We also demonstrate that, as any given component of the aggregated accounting report becomes softer, the equilibrium level of the firm's investment diminishes and the market places greater weight on the remaining components of the report. Copyright University of Chicago on behalf of the Institute of Professional Accounting, 2004.

Suggested Citation

  • Ronald A. Dye & Sri S. Sridhar, 2004. "Reliability-Relevance Trade-Offs and the Efficiency of Aggregation," Journal of Accounting Research, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 42(1), pages 51-88, March.
  • Handle: RePEc:bla:joares:v:42:y:2004:i:1:p:51-88

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    2. Hann, Rebecca N. & Heflin, Frank & Subramanayam, K.R., 2007. "Fair-value pension accounting," Journal of Accounting and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 44(3), pages 328-358, December.
    3. Edward J. Riedl & Suraj Srinivasan, 2007. "Signaling Firm Performance Through Financial Statement Presentation: An Analysis Using Special Items," Harvard Business School Working Papers 09-031, Harvard Business School.
    4. Ralf Ewert & Alfred Wagenhofer, 2015. "Economic Relations Among Earnings Quality Measures," Abacus, Accounting Foundation, University of Sydney, vol. 51(3), pages 311-355, September.
    5. Wei Zhou & Liansheng Wu & Hong Wang, 2016. "The Consequences of Increasing the Scope of Managerial Judgement in Accounting Standards," Abacus, Accounting Foundation, University of Sydney, vol. 52(3), pages 404-440, September.
    6. Paul E. Fischer & Henock Louis, 2008. "Financial Reporting and Conflicting Managerial Incentives: The Case of Management Buyouts," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 54(10), pages 1700-1714, October.
    7. Yoshinori Kawamura, 2015. "Cost-Benefit Analysis of Mixed Measurement Model," The Japanese Accounting Review, Research Institute for Economics & Business Administration, Kobe University, vol. 5, pages 1-19, December.
    8. Friedman, Henry L., 2014. "Implications of power: When the CEO can pressure the CFO to bias reports," Journal of Accounting and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 58(1), pages 117-141.
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    10. Bischof, Jannis & Ebert, Michael, 2007. "IAS 39 and biases in the risk perception of financial instruments," Papers 07-73, Sonderforschungsbreich 504.
    11. A. Szczesny & A. Lenk & T. Huang, 2008. "Substitution, availability and preferences in earnings management: empirical evidence from China," Review of Managerial Science, Springer, vol. 2(2), pages 129-160, July.
    12. repec:spr:reaccs:v:22:y:2017:i:3:d:10.1007_s11142-017-9411-5 is not listed on IDEAS
    13. Hales, Jeffrey, 2015. "Discussion of “The effects of forecast type and performance-based incentives on the quality of management forecasts”," Accounting, Organizations and Society, Elsevier, vol. 46(C), pages 19-22.
    14. Guoming Lai & Wenqiang Xiao & Jun Yang, 2012. "Supply Chain Performance Under Market Valuation: An Operational Approach to Restore Efficiency," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 58(10), pages 1933-1951, October.
    15. Stephen Baginski & Elizabeth Demers & Chong Wang & Julia Yu, 2016. "Contemporaneous verification of language: evidence from management earnings forecasts," Review of Accounting Studies, Springer, vol. 21(1), pages 165-197, March.

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