Purpose – This paper attempts to investigate the relationships between the board of directors' characteristics and earnings management being a proxy of earnings quality in two separate countries, France and Canada. Specifically, it aims to investigate how certain contextual features affect differently earnings management behavior, and to reveal which factors are the most prominent incentives of management discretion in both cases. Design/methodology/approach – The paper uses a performance matched discretionary accruals (PMDA) measure as a proxy for earnings management. Three separate panel‐regressions are then performed on a full sample, comprising a French sub‐sample and a Canadian sub‐sample, to detect board characteristics and institutional features' impacts on the PMDA. Regressions are based on a panel of 180 French and Canadian listed firms' data over the period 2006‐2008. Findings – Evidence shows that CEO stock ownership, independent monitoring and institutional investor's property are strong earnings management determinants in both the French and Canadian frameworks. Nevertheless, leadership structure and board size seem to be neutral. Furthermore, French firms show specific earnings management incentives which are related to high ownership concentration, low equity widespread and high contractual debt costs. Dominant minority ownership and capital market forces are the key earnings management incentives in the Canadian context. These findings are robust to alternative sensitivity tests. Research limitations/implications – Even though the findings answer some questions, earnings management incentives are still to be decided. Future research could further highlight the impact of contractual, legal, cultural, ethical and political country‐specific factors related to financial reporting. Originality/value – This paper investigates how an effective board of directors is able to provide a monitoring mechanism to ensure high quality of earnings. Moreover, it builds on cross‐country variations in corporate governance features and contextual‐specific factors to reveal earnings management behavior's incentives in two separate environments, namely French and Canadian ones. The underlying promise is that poor corporate governance (weak board monitoring), high ownership concentration, and intensive financial market forces create incentives that largely influence manager's willingness to report earnings that don't reflect a firm's true performance.
Managerial Auditing Journal – Emerald Publishing
Published: Nov 25, 2011
Keywords: Earnings management; Board of directors; Corporate governance; Discretionary accruals; Canada; France
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