HCBE Theses and Dissertations

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Date of Award

2010

Document Type

Dissertation - NSU Access Only

Degree Name

Doctor of Business Administration (DBA)

Department

H. Wayne Huizenga School of Business and Entrepreneurship

Advisor

Rein Peterson

Committee Member

Michael Bendixen

Committee Member

Flora Niu

Abstract

Earnings management has had consequence in financial disasters, such as Enron, WorldCom and Nortel. More recently, it is alleged in the Lehman bankruptcy, which ushered in a global financial meltdown. Yet despite increased regulation and focus on governance and auditing, researchers find that earnings management remains a common practice.

Accounting academics have responded to the earnings management problem by conducting studies using secondary data for governance variables and financial models to measure earnings management indirectly. Meanwhile, governance variables measured with secondary data now show little variability because of improved best practice and regulation, and there is strong evidence that the agency causal model and the earnings management measures are seriously flawed. This study uses a mixed-mode research model based on agency and stewardship theory to explain earnings management, and uses a more direct measure of its occurrence, namely the level of board information asymmetries and board monitoring and control actions, as a proxy for earnings management. Primary data is used to provide direct measures of important governance variables, which produce mixed results relative to earnings management using secondary data.

In a survey of 245 Canadian public company directors, this study finds that an independent chair, less busy directors, and a smaller board does reduce earnings management, but that this impact is strongly moderated by the CEO's attributes. A CEO with stewardship attributes reduces earnings management, and a CEO with agency attributes increases earnings management. There also is evidence in the study that agency conflict variables improve governance outcomes, in this case, reducing the level of earnings management, and that board processes around monitoring and control actions could be a problem.

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