Corporate diversification and accrual and real earnings management: A non-linear relationship

Mohammad Alhadab, Thang Nguyen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

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Abstract

Purpose
This study aims to examine the non-linear relationship between corporate diversification and real and accrual earnings management, using a sample of 5,659 US firm-year observations for 1,221 firms covering the period from 2001 to 2012.

Design/methodology/approach
The authors use various techniques and regressions to test the hypotheses. Following prior research, several proxies have been used to measure diversification, accrual earnings management and real earnings management.

Findings
The study produces several important findings. First, the study provides evidence that diversified firms engage in real and accrual earnings management to manage their reported earnings upward. These results are consistent with recent research (Farooqi et al., 2014; Jirapon et al., 2008) that finds that diversified firms engage in earnings manipulation. Second, and most importantly, the study contributes to the literature by providing the first evidence on a non-linear relationship between corporate diversification and earnings management. Specifically, the study provides evidence that diversified firms engage in accrual (real) earnings management, but this engagement is associated with level of diversification in a non-linear U-shaped (inverted U-shaped) relationship.

Research limitations/implications
Like all other studies, the current study has some limitations. The study was conducted only on the largest firms in the USA that have market capitalization of more than US$10m; hence, the findings may not be generalizable to small publicly traded firms. Further, the findings may not be generalizable to other markets, given the unique characteristics of US markets such as the presence of very sophisticated investors.

Practical implications
This study provides some important implications for US regulators to revise their regulations to prevent diversified firms from using earnings management to manipulate reported earnings.

Originality/value
This study is the first in the USA to examine the non-linear relationship between corporate diversification and earnings management. The study focuses on one of the most active, most attractive and largest capital markets throughout the world, that of the USA. Also, this study is one of the few studies that examine whether diversified firms use real activities manipulation to manage their reported earnings.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)198-214
Number of pages17
JournalReview of Accounting and Finance
Volume17
Issue number2
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2018

Fingerprint

Earnings management
Nonlinear relationships
Corporate diversification
Diversified firms
Diversification
Design methodology
Manipulation
Investors
Earnings manipulation
Real activity
Large firms
Market capitalization
Capital markets
Inverted-U

Bibliographical note

Copyright © and Moral Rights are retained by the author(s) and/ or other copyright owners. A copy can be downloaded for personal non-commercial research or study, without prior permission or charge. This item cannot be reproduced or quoted extensively from without first obtaining permission in writing from the copyright holder(s). The content must not be changed in any way or sold commercially in any format or medium without the formal permission of the copyright holders.

Keywords

  • Diversification
  • Real earnings management
  • Accrual earnings management
  • Non-linear relationship

Cite this

Corporate diversification and accrual and real earnings management : A non-linear relationship. / Alhadab, Mohammad ; Nguyen, Thang.

In: Review of Accounting and Finance, Vol. 17, No. 2, 2018, p. 198-214.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

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