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Accounting Choices: Variation in Managerial Opportunism

Frank Heflin, Sung S. Kwon and John J. Wild

Journal of Business Finance & Accounting, 2002, vol. 29, issue 7‐8, 1047-1078

Abstract: This study focuses on variation in managers’ accounting choices given motivations to use accounting accruals opportunistically. Prior research identifies a number of motivations arising from accounting–based contracts that encourage opportunistic reporting by managers. However, prior research implicitly assumes all managers respond identically to the same contractual motivations. This study identifies variation in managers’ responses to contractual motivations involving accruals that is related to managers’ stewardship of corporate assets. Evidence shows that modeling how managers use corporate assets enhances the explanation of their accounting choices given motivations to (a) use accruals opportunistically, and (b) to smooth income via accruals. Managers with high ratings on judicious use of corporate assets are less responsive to motivations to use accruals opportunistically, and to smooth income via accruals, than managers with low ratings. This evidence suggests that not all managers are equally opportunistic, and that modeling this factor helps explain cross–sectional differences in managers’ accounting choices.

Date: 2002
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Journal of Business Finance & Accounting is currently edited by P. F. Pope, A. W. Stark and M. Walker

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