Earnings Management and the Independence or Interdependence of Accounting Choices: the Decision to Adopt Mandated Accounting Changes
Description: This research examines whether firms managed earnings in the year they adopted SFAS 109, Accounting for Income Taxes (or its predecessor SFAS 96), by combining the choice to adopt SFAS 109 with other accounting choices in an interdependent rather than independent manner. Prior literature generally analyzes only one specific accounting choice, assuming that the decision is independent of other accounting procedure choices. However, it is unlikely that managers act in this manner. When attempting to achieve certain income goals, managers have numerous accounting tools available to them including the choice of accounting procedures and the exercise of judgment as to accrual amounts. This study investigates five choices consisting of: (1) the adoption of SFAS 109/96; (2) the adoption of SFAS 106; (3) the reporting of a restructuring of operations and/or a write-down of assets; (4) the reporting of asset sales; and (5) the choice of discretionary accruals. The study adopts both a portfolio and joint decision approach. The portfolio approach combines the earnings effects of the five choices into a single dependent variable and tests income smoothing, big bath, and debt hypotheses. The joint decision approach utilizes simultaneous equation methodology to investigate the interdependence of the five choices and the independent variables. The portfolio approach findings provide evidence that firms used the combined effect of the five accounting choices to smooth income in the year they adopted FAS 109/96. The results also provide support for the debt hypothesis but do not support the big bath hypothesis. The joint decision approach findings provide evidence that firms jointly determined at least two of the five accounting choices. The strong support for the income smoothing hypothesis under the portfolio approach combined with the joint significance of the individual accounting choices in the simultaneous equations suggests that firms use a multitude of accounting choices ...
Date: December 1997
Creator: Nichols, Nancy Brown
Partner: UNT Libraries