K.U.Leuven - Departement toegepaste economische wetenschappen
DTEW Research Report 9833 pages:1-23
This paper provides a review of the empirical earnings management literature. In particular, it presents a review of the factors that induce and constrain earnings management through accounting decisions. The consequences of actual or assumed earnings management are also discussed. The far majority of the literature focuses on the Anglo-Saxon context. However, major differences exist between Anglo-Saxon and continental European countries. This may result in differences in the importance of various incentives of and constraints on earnings management. In particular, we argue that explicit contracts and a firm's relations with capital markets may be less important sources of earnings management in continental Europe. Implicit contracts and the political and regulatory process may however be of major importance. We question further whether a firm's ownership and internal governance structure and the quality of the external auditor can constrain the ability to manage earnings in continental European countries.