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Earnings Manipilation and Incentives in Firms

Author

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  • Guido Friebel

    () (University of Toulouse (EHESS and IDEI), CEPR, IZA)

  • Sergei Guriev

    () (New Economic School/CEFIR and CEPR)

Abstract

We show that earnings manipulation destroys incentives within the corporate hierarchy. In the model, top management has incentives to over-report earnings. An insider, for instance, a division manager may gain evidence about over-reporting. We show that the division manager is more likely to have evidence, when the performance of her own division is low. Top management wants to prevent information leakage to the outside world. Hence, when the division manager threatens to blow the whistle, top management pays her a bribe. As this occurs when division output is low, the wedge between payments in high and low states of nature decreases. Earnings manipulation therefore undermines incentives to exert effort and destroys value. We show that earnings manipulation is more likely to occur in flatter hierarchies; we also discuss implications of the auditing and whistle-blowing regulations of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act.

Suggested Citation

  • Guido Friebel & Sergei Guriev, 2004. "Earnings Manipilation and Incentives in Firms," Working Papers w0055, Center for Economic and Financial Research (CEFIR), revised Oct 2005.
  • Handle: RePEc:cfr:cefirw:w0055
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. S. Guriev & G. Egorov & K. Sonin., 2007. "Media Freedom, Bureaucratic Incentives, and the Resource Curse," VOPROSY ECONOMIKI, N.P. Redaktsiya zhurnala "Voprosy Economiki", vol. 4.
    2. 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.
    3. Agliardi, Elettra & Andergassen, Rainer, 2009. "Last resort gambles, risky debt and liquidation policy," Review of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 18(3), pages 142-155, August.
    4. repec:rim:rimwps:31-07 is not listed on IDEAS

    More about this item

    Keywords

    agency costs; Sarbanes-Oxley Act; whistleblowing; flat hierarchies;

    JEL classification:

    • D23 - Microeconomics - - Production and Organizations - - - Organizational Behavior; Transaction Costs; Property Rights
    • G30 - Financial Economics - - Corporate Finance and Governance - - - General
    • M40 - Business Administration and Business Economics; Marketing; Accounting; Personnel Economics - - Accounting - - - General
    • M52 - Business Administration and Business Economics; Marketing; Accounting; Personnel Economics - - Personnel Economics - - - Compensation and Compensation Methods and Their Effects

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