Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to investigate whether or not there is a link between CEO incentive‐based compensation and earnings management and to examine how institutional environment's features influence such link. Design/methodology/approach – To test the predictions, the authors use a panel of 1,500 American, Canadian, British, and French firm‐year observation over the period 2004‐2008. Findings – The authors find a significant association between earnings management and CEO incentive‐based compensation. Moreover, the analysis provides evidence that institutional factors are strong determinants of this association. Specifically, the results show that firms from countries within the Anglo‐American corporate governance model, which provides greater protection of shareholder rights, ensures strict enforcement of law, and scores high on board oversight, tend to have lower level of earnings management. The analysis shows however, that beside the formal corporate governance quality, it is relevant to consider weaker shareholder protection and lower law enforcement indexes to explain earnings management in firms from countries within the Euro‐Continental corporate governance model. Originality/value – This paper is the first to provide insights regarding the extent to which CEO incentive rewards imply management discretion and to indicate how much institutional features matter. The analysis contributes to two distinct strands of research. It extends prior research on the association between executive compensation and earnings management and adds to the literature demonstrating a relationship between institutional factors and financial decisions.
EuroMed Journal of Business – Emerald Publishing
Published: Apr 29, 2014
Keywords: Corporate governance; Earnings management; Anglo‐American corporate governance model; CEO incentive‐based compensation; Euro‐Continental corporate governance model; Institutional factors