Quo Vadis, earnings management? Analysis of manipulation determinants in Central European environment
Keywords:earnings management, discretionary accruals, aggressive accounting, conservative accounting
Research background: The paper investigates the earnings management phenomenon in the context of Central European countries, attempting to identify the factors and incentives that can influence earnings management behavior on a sample of 8,156 enterprises from Slovakia, the Czech Republic, Hungary, and Poland.
Purpose of the article: The main purpose of the manuscript is to prove that there are significant differences in earnings management practices (measured by discretionary accruals) across the countries and to find the firm-specific features that influence the way enterprises manage their earnings.
Methods: The modified Jones model was used to calculate the discretionary accruals, which are further analyzed across the countries. The statistically significant differences were confirmed across the countries. Thus, the impact of the economic sector, firm size, firm age, legal form, and ownership structure on earnings management behavior is studied by the Kruskal-Wallis test. The Dunn-Bonferroni post hoc tests then revealed the significant differences across the categories of the investigated earnings management determinants. To find the association between the particular earnings management practice (income-increasing or income-decreasing manipulation), correspondence analysis was used to visualize the mutual relations.
Findings & value added: The results of the realized investigation revealed that the economic sector is one of the most important earnings management determinants, as its statistical significance was confirmed in each analyzed country. The correspondence analysis determined specific sectors, where income-increasing manipulation with earnings is practiced (NACE codes F, J, K, M, N), and vice versa, income-decreasing earnings management is characteristic for enterprises in sectors A, C, D, G or L. In specific economic conditions, firm size is also a relevant indicator (Hungary), or firm age and legal form and ownership structure (Poland). The recognition of crucial earnings management incentives may be helpful for authorities, policymakers, analysts and auditors when identifying various techniques and practices of earnings manipulation which could vary across the sectors and taking necessary measures to mitigate potential financial risks.
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