IDEAS home Printed from https://ideas.repec.org/a/taf/acctbr/v43y2013i4p445-481.html
   My bibliography  Save this article

How far can we trust earnings numbers? What research tells us about earnings management

Author

Listed:
  • Martin Walker

Abstract

The article reviews the recent academic research literature on earnings management (EM) with a view to identifying research themes and results of interest to users and preparers of financial statements, accounting standard setters, and others with responsibility for ensuring that companies provide financial information to shareholders that can be relied upon. Hopefully students of accounting with an interest in exploring the EM literature will find that the article provides a useful framework. The literature on this topic is vast, and it is not possible to cover every article in detail. I provide an impressionistic survey that highlights examples of specific research themes and methods that regularly appear in the literature. Most of the examples are chosen from the literature published since 2000, although I do also highlight a few methodological contributions that appeared earlier. It is inevitable that the selection of articles reflects to some extent my personal interests and biases (intentional or otherwise). Thus, I wish to acknowledge that I owe a very substantial intellectual debt to the insights and contributions of the many uncited authors of a literature that spans over 40 years in over 20 accounting and finance journals.

Suggested Citation

  • Martin Walker, 2013. "How far can we trust earnings numbers? What research tells us about earnings management," Accounting and Business Research, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 43(4), pages 445-481, August.
  • Handle: RePEc:taf:acctbr:v:43:y:2013:i:4:p:445-481
    DOI: 10.1080/00014788.2013.785823
    as

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10.1080/00014788.2013.785823
    Download Restriction: Access to full text is restricted to subscribers.

    As the access to this document is restricted, you may want to search for a different version of it.

    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. David Burgstahler & Michael Eames, 2006. "Management of Earnings and Analysts' Forecasts to Achieve Zero and Small Positive Earnings Surprises," Journal of Business Finance & Accounting, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 33(5-6), pages 633-652.
    2. Francis, Jennifer & LaFond, Ryan & Olsson, Per & Schipper, Katherine, 2005. "The market pricing of accruals quality," Journal of Accounting and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 39(2), pages 295-327, June.
    3. Fama, Eugene F & French, Kenneth R, 1992. " The Cross-Section of Expected Stock Returns," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 47(2), pages 427-465, June.
    4. Stewart C. Myers & Nicholas S. Majluf, 1984. "Corporate Financing and Investment Decisions When Firms Have InformationThat Investors Do Not Have," NBER Working Papers 1396, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    5. Myers, Stewart C. & Majluf, Nicholas S., 1984. "Corporate financing and investment decisions when firms have information that investors do not have," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 13(2), pages 187-221, June.
    6. Mary E. Barth & Wayne R. Landsman & Mark H. Lang, 2008. "International Accounting Standards and Accounting Quality," Journal of Accounting Research, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 46(3), pages 467-498, June.
    7. repec:taf:acctbr:v:36:y:2006:i:3:p:137-167 is not listed on IDEAS
    8. Graham, John R. & Harvey, Campbell R. & Rajgopal, Shiva, 2005. "The economic implications of corporate financial reporting," Journal of Accounting and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 40(1-3), pages 3-73, December.
    9. Jensen, Michael C. & Meckling, William H., 1976. "Theory of the firm: Managerial behavior, agency costs and ownership structure," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 3(4), pages 305-360, October.
    10. HOLMSTROM, Bengt, 1979. "Moral hazard and observability," CORE Discussion Papers RP 379, Université catholique de Louvain, Center for Operations Research and Econometrics (CORE).
    11. repec:taf:acctbr:v:37:y:2007:i:2:p:123-149 is not listed on IDEAS
    12. Dechow, Patricia & Ge, Weili & Schrand, Catherine, 2010. "Understanding earnings quality: A review of the proxies, their determinants and their consequences," Journal of Accounting and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 50(2-3), pages 344-401, December.
    13. Leuz, Christian & Nanda, Dhananjay & Wysocki, Peter D., 2003. "Earnings management and investor protection: an international comparison," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 69(3), pages 505-527, September.
    14. repec:wly:coacre:v:21:y:2004:i:4:p:813-841 is not listed on IDEAS
    15. repec:bla:joares:v:33:y:1995:i:2:p:231-261 is not listed on IDEAS
    16. Fields, Thomas D. & Lys, Thomas Z. & Vincent, Linda, 2001. "Empirical research on accounting choice," Journal of Accounting and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 31(1-3), pages 255-307, September.
    17. repec:bla:joares:v:29:y:1991:i:2:p:193-228 is not listed on IDEAS
    18. Kothari, S.P. & Leone, Andrew J. & Wasley, Charles E., 2005. "Performance matched discretionary accrual measures," Journal of Accounting and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 39(1), pages 163-197, February.
    19. Johnson, Marilyn F. & Nelson, Karen K. & Frankel, Richard M., 2002. "The Relation Between Auditor's Fees for Non-audit Services and Earnings Quality," Research Papers 1696r, Stanford University, Graduate School of Business.
    20. Burgstahler, David & Dichev, Ilia, 1997. "Earnings management to avoid earnings decreases and losses," Journal of Accounting and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 24(1), pages 99-126, December.
    21. repec:bla:joares:v:26:y:1988:i:2:p:195-235 is not listed on IDEAS
    22. Siew Hong Teoh & Ivo Welch & T.J. Wong, 1998. "Earnings Management and the Long-Run Market Performance of Initial Public Offerings," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 53(6), pages 1935-1974, December.
    23. Myers, Stewart C. & Majluf, Nicolás S., 1945-, 1984. "Corporate financing and investment decisions when firms have information that investors do not have," Working papers 1523-84., Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Sloan School of Management.
    24. Klein, April, 2002. "Audit committee, board of director characteristics, and earnings management," Journal of Accounting and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 33(3), pages 375-400, August.
    25. David F. Larcker & Scott A. Richardson, 2004. "Fees Paid to Audit Firms, Accrual Choices, and Corporate Governance," Journal of Accounting Research, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 42(3), pages 625-658, June.
    26. Roychowdhury, Sugata, 2006. "Earnings management through real activities manipulation," Journal of Accounting and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 42(3), pages 335-370, December.
    27. repec:taf:acctbr:v:39:y:2009:i:1:p:3-35 is not listed on IDEAS
    28. Fama, Eugene F. & French, Kenneth R., 1993. "Common risk factors in the returns on stocks and bonds," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 33(1), pages 3-56, February.
    29. Jeanjean, Thomas & Stolowy, Hervé, 2008. "Do accounting standards matter? An exploratory analysis of earnings management before and after IFRS adoption," Journal of Accounting and Public Policy, Elsevier, vol. 27(6), pages 480-494.
    30. Ilia D. Dichev & Douglas J. Skinner, 2002. "Large–Sample Evidence on the Debt Covenant Hypothesis," Journal of Accounting Research, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 40(4), pages 1091-1123, September.
    31. repec:wly:coacre:v:25:y:2008:i:1:p:157-191 is not listed on IDEAS
    32. repec:taf:acctbr:v:39:y:2009:i:4:p:321-345 is not listed on IDEAS
    33. Abdallah Atieh & Simon Hussain, 2012. "Do UK firms manage earnings to meet dividend thresholds?," Accounting and Business Research, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 42(1), pages 77-94, March.
    34. K.V. Peasnell & P.F. Pope & S. Young, 2005. "Board Monitoring and Earnings Management: Do Outside Directors Influence Abnormal Accruals?," Journal of Business Finance & Accounting, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 32(7-8), pages 1311-1346.
    35. Cristina Gaio, 2010. "The Relative Importance of Firm and Country Characteristics for Earnings Quality around the World," European Accounting Review, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 19(4), pages 693-738.
    36. Daniel, Naveen D. & Denis, David J. & Naveen, Lalitha, 2008. "Do firms manage earnings to meet dividend thresholds," Journal of Accounting and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 45(1), pages 2-26, March.
    37. Joachim Gassen & Rolf Uwe Fulbier & Thorsten Sellhorn, 2006. "International Differences in Conditional Conservatism - The Role of Unconditional Conservatism and Income Smoothing," European Accounting Review, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 15(4), pages 527-564.
    38. Bengt Holmstrom, 1979. "Moral Hazard and Observability," Bell Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 10(1), pages 74-91, Spring.
    39. Yu, Fang (Frank), 2008. "Analyst coverage and earnings management," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 88(2), pages 245-271, May.
    40. Caramanis, Constantinos & Lennox, Clive, 2008. "Audit effort and earnings management," Journal of Accounting and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 45(1), pages 116-138, March.
    41. 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.
    42. Gul, Ferdinand A. & Fung, Simon Yu Kit & Jaggi, Bikki, 2009. "Earnings quality: Some evidence on the role of auditor tenure and auditors' industry expertise," Journal of Accounting and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 47(3), pages 265-287, June.
    43. Michael C. Jensen, 2005. "Agency Costs of Overvalued Equity," Financial Management, Financial Management Association, vol. 34(1), Spring.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    Citations

    Citations are extracted by the CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.
    as


    Cited by:

    1. repec:hur:ijaraf:v:7:y:2017:i:4:p:21-32 is not listed on IDEAS
    2. Nico Lehmann, 2016. "The role of corporate governance in shaping accruals manipulation prior to acquisitions," Accounting and Business Research, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 46(4), pages 327-364, June.
    3. Araceli Mora & Martin Walker, 2015. "The implications of research on accounting conservatism for accounting standard setting," Accounting and Business Research, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 45(5), pages 620-650, August.
    4. repec:taf:acctbr:v:48:y:2018:i:6:p:613-650 is not listed on IDEAS
    5. repec:bbz:fcpbbr:v:10:y:2013:i:4:p:1-29 is not listed on IDEAS
    6. repec:gam:jsusta:v:9:y:2017:i:6:p:908-:d:99892 is not listed on IDEAS
    7. repec:eee:accfor:v:38:y:2014:i:3:p:155-169 is not listed on IDEAS
    8. repec:eee:jocaae:v:12:y:2016:i:3:p:290-308 is not listed on IDEAS
    9. repec:taf:acctbr:v:47:y:2017:i:1:p:91-121 is not listed on IDEAS
    10. repec:kap:rqfnac:v:49:y:2017:i:4:d:10.1007_s11156-017-0619-z is not listed on IDEAS
    11. repec:taf:acctbr:v:47:y:2017:i:2:p:191-236 is not listed on IDEAS
    12. repec:kap:rqfnac:v:49:y:2017:i:1:d:10.1007_s11156-016-0588-7 is not listed on IDEAS
    13. repec:gam:jadmsc:v:9:y:2019:i:1:p:20-:d:210942 is not listed on IDEAS
    14. Ahsan Habib & Md. Borhan Uddin Bhuiyan, 2016. "Problem directors on the audit committee and financial reporting quality," Accounting and Business Research, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 46(2), pages 121-144, February.
    15. Eliwa, Yasser & Haslam, Jim & Abraham, Santhosh, 2016. "The association between earnings quality and the cost of equity capital: Evidence from the UK," International Review of Financial Analysis, Elsevier, vol. 48(C), pages 125-139.
    16. Abdelsalam, Omneya & Dimitropoulos, Panagiotis & Elnahass, Marwa & Leventis, Stergios, 2016. "Earnings management behaviors under different monitoring mechanisms: The case of Islamic and conventional banks," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 132(S), pages 155-173.
    17. Comitato di Redazione, 2014. "Book review," FINANCIAL REPORTING, FrancoAngeli Editore, vol. 2014(2-3-4), pages 171-178.

    More about this item

    Statistics

    Access and download statistics

    Corrections

    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:taf:acctbr:v:43:y:2013:i:4:p:445-481. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Chris Longhurst). General contact details of provider: http://www.tandfonline.com/RABR20 .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If CitEc recognized a reference but did not link an item in RePEc to it, you can help with this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.