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Publisher : Elsevier - Science Direct (الزویر - ساینس دایرکت)
Journal : The International Journal of Accounting, Volume 41, Issue 4, December 2006, Pages 406–435
The purpose of this paper is to investigate factors that potentially influence earnings-management policy with reference to the Anglo-American and Euro-Continental accounting models. Canada and France, respectively, belong to those different socio-economic environments. Earnings-management practices detected in those countries are expected to be affected by specific socio-economic features of the Anglo-American and the Euro-Continental environments. We explain earnings-management practices by incentives suggested in the literature to reveal which motives are prominent within each environment. We tested our earnings-management motives (EMM) model using appropriate panel-estimation techniques over 1674 Canadian and 1470 French firm-year observations. Our results provide evidence that incentives for earnings management for French firms are specifically linked to contractual debt costs and effective tax rate. However, Canadian firms show specific incentives matched with a dynamic capital market. Issuing equity is a strong motive for earnings management in Canadian firms.
Earnings management has often been considered as the alteration of a firm's reported economic performance by insiders to either mislead some stakeholders or to influence contractual outcomes (Healy & Wahlen, 1999). In effect, a wide literature has addressed the issue of earnings management. Most studies in this area have concentrated on the Anglo-American world. These studies have tried to examine earnings management in particular contexts. They investigated incentives provided by management-compensation plans (Guidry et al., 1999, Healy, 1985 and Holthausen et al., 1995), debt contracts (DeAngelo et al., 1994, DeFond and Jiambalvo, 1994, Healy and Palepu, 1990 and Sweeney, 1994), regulatory cases (Cahan, 1992, Jones, 1991 and Key, 1997), and stock price motives such as stock offering (Erickson and Wang, 1999, Shivakumar, 2000 and Teoh et al., 1998), avoiding decreases and losses (Burgstahler and Dichev, 1997 and Burgstahler and Eames, 2003) and meeting thresholds such as analysts' and management's forecasts (Burgstahle and Eames, 1998 and Degeorge et al., 1999). However, little attention has been focused on earnings-management motives in countries from the Euro-Continental accounting model. French managers operate within an accounting system which is contingent upon specific socio-economic features. Although Leuz, Nanda, and Wysocki (2003) documented international differences in earnings-management behavior for a large number of countries (including Canada and France), they did not examine specific determinants of earnings management for these countries. Considering 31 countries in their study has confined them to using broad, institutional factors to explain earnings management (outside investor rights, legal enforcement, private control benefits, etc.) as well as descriptive and aggregate measures of earnings management (median ratio of the firm level standard deviation of operating income and operation cash flow, country's Spearman correlation between the change in total accruals and the change in cash flow from operations, country's median ratio of the absolute value of total accruals and the absolute value of the cash flow from operations, etc.). Their results may suffer from an endogeneity bias (Leuz et al., 2003, p. 521). They also recognize that “theoretical relations among institutional factors are not well understood and hence difficult to disentangle” (Leuz et al., 2003, p 526). This paper sheds light on the importance of certain specific motives for earnings management within different socio-economic environments. We investigate specific factors which potentially influence earnings-management policy with reference to the Anglo-American and Euro-Continental accounting models. Canada and France, respectively, belong to those different socio-economic environments. The accounting system in Canada is marked by a conceptual framework that safeguards shareholder interests. Accounting values of flexibility and professionalism prevail as in Anglo-American accounting traditions (Gray, 1988). Financial reporting is independent of the tax system. The capital market has a major role in enhancing financing through equity. Pressures from a dynamic capital market (shareholders, financial analysts, and the financial press) are prominent. On the other hand, the accounting system in France, as in most Continental European countries, relies upon the “Plan Comptable” and codified rules that have the purpose of satisfying stakeholders' information needs. The French accounting system is characterized by values of uniformity and statutory control (Gray, 1988). Accounting earnings are linked to fiscal rules (Frydlender & Pham, 1996). The finance mode of French companies is based to a large extent on bank loans. Hence, earnings-management practices detected in these two countries are expected to be affected by specific socio-economic features of the Anglo-American and the Euro-Continental environments. We attempt to explain earnings-management practices by incentives suggested in the literature to reveal which motives are prominent within each environment. We notice that initial and subsequent equity offerings are more frequent for Canadian firms than for French firms. Financing through the capital market is likely to have more influence on earnings management for Canadian firms. In contrast, pervasive debt-to-equity ratios and effective tax rates in French firms are more likely to affect earnings-management behavior. To test for the importance of specific motives for earnings management within Canadian and French environments, we develop an Earnings-Management Motives (EMM) regression model that takes into consideration differences in motives between Canada and France. Earlier studies on earnings management widely used either time-series data (Dechow et al., 1995, Guay et al., 1996 and Jones, 1991) or cross-section data (Bartov et al., 2001, Becker et al., 1998, DeFond and Subramanyam, 1998, Peasnell et al., 2000 and Subramanyam, 1996). Both approaches have limitations. The time-series approach assumes temporal stationarity of parameter estimates, whereas the cross-sectional approach assumes homogeneity across firms in the same industry (Larker & Richardson, 2004, p 633). Other research studies, confined to data limitation, used pooled-across-sample firms (Cahan, 1992, Erickson and Wang, 1999, Han and Wang, 1998 and Leuz et al., 2003) to maximize their sample size. However, their approach uses cross-sectional techniques for the same sample of firms introduced many times along with the time-period of analysis. A prime advantage of our statistical approach is that it uses appropriate panel-estimation techniques to take into account both the time and year dimensions of each Canadian and French observation. We used panel data of 1470 Canadian and 1674 French firm-year observations during the period 1996–2000. Based on directional and non-directional measures of earnings management (signed discretionary accruals and absolute value of discretionary accruals), we tested our EMM panel-regression model. Collectively, results suggest that incentives for earnings management for French firms are specifically linked to contractual debt costs and the effective tax rate. However, Canadian firms show specific incentives matched with a dynamic capital market. Issuing equity is a strong motive for earnings management in Canadian firms. Our study considers the interests of international investors, standard setters, market authorities, and auditors. Considering specific motivations for earnings management within each socio-economic environment may help international investors distinguish their different impacts on accounting earnings for evaluation purposes. Standard setters and regulators should be conscious of the specific determinants of earnings management to provide appropriate standards/rules limiting discretionary behavior of managers. Auditors have to be able to understand differences in earnings-management motives in order to detect specific manipulations of accounting earnings. The remainder of the paper is organized as follows. Section 2 presents the backgrounds and develops the hypotheses for the study. Section 3 describes our sample, details the earnings-management proxy-estimation method, and presents our research design. Section 4 provides descriptive statistics of earnings-management motives and reports results of our analysis based on our EMM panel-regression model. Section 5 concludes the paper.
نتیجه گیری انگلیسی
The purpose of this paper is to investigate factors that have the potential of influencing earnings-management activity with reference to the Anglo-American and Euro-Continental accounting models. This study outlines major differences between Canadian and French socio-economic environments and assesses their implications for earnings-management behavior. Our work presents evidence regarding the determinants of managerial-accounting discretion for global samples of Canadian and French firms. We used panel data of 1470 Canadian and 1674 French firm-year observations. Using alternate measure of earnings-management activity that capture the direction and extent of discretionary behavior, we performed an analysis based on a panel-regression model. Findings provide evidence that initial public and subsequent equity offerings are strong motives for earnings management in Canadian firms. Hence, Canadian firms show specific incentives matched with a dynamic capital market. However, incentives for earnings management for French firms are specifically linked to contractual debt costs and the effective tax rate. We believe the results to be of interest to international investors, standard setters, regulators, and auditors. A major concern regarding the interpretation of these results relates to the reliance placed on accrual-based measures of accounting choice. Despite the use of an extended version of the m−J model, the possibility remains that misspecification of the accounting-choice proxy may underlie some of the observed relations. Finally, although we attempt to reveal the opportunity for accounting discretion within two different socio-economic environments, i. e., Canada and France, some important determinants of managerial discretion have not been considered. In particular, no attempt has been made to control for the impact of differential corporate-governance mechanisms (outside directors, audit committees structure, etc.) on earnings-management practices. Future research could further develop contractual, agency, and governance problems in other countries. Research on earnings-management determinants in different environments can only stand to enrich researchers' understanding of accounting-policy choice in their own environment.