The impact of audit quality on real earnings management in the UK context
journal contributionposted on 08.04.2021, 13:24 by Syed Numan Chowdhury, Yasser EliwaYasser Eliwa
The purpose of this paper is to examine whether audit quality influence real earnings management activities using a sample of UK listed firms that have strong incentives to manage earnings upward through meeting past year’s earnings as a benchmark in the post-adoption period of International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS).
The authors use a sample of 4,774 firm-year observations of UK listed firms during the period 2005–2018. Univariate and multivariate analyses have been conducted to test the association after controlling for firm characteristics and institutional variables.
The study reports that the presence of Big 4 auditors is significantly and positively related with greater levels of sales and discretionary expenses manipulation. Though the authors do not find any conclusive evidence on production costs manipulation, the aggregated measure of real earnings management shows a significant positive association with the presence of Big 4 auditors.
The study implies that managers who have incentives to manage earnings upward around the UK firms take advantage of the accounting flexibility in defining policies while reducing information asymmetry among the investors to signal better future performance. The approach to detect earnings manipulation as described in the auditing standards fails to limit the managerial use of real activities due to limited scope and unclear guidance. Thus, due to the significant impact on public policies, the results should, therefore, be of interest to the regulators and standard setters.
To the best of the authors’ knowledge, this is the first study that examines the association between audit quality and real earnings management for the UK all-purpose operational firms in sampled data that just meet past year’s earnings as a benchmark in the post-IFRS period.
- Business and Economics