Debtholders' Demand for Conservatism: Evidence from Changes in Directors' Fiduciary Duties
49 Pages Posted: 2 May 2012 Last revised: 20 Sep 2014
Date Written: August 31, 2014
Debtholders’ demand has been widely discussed as a key determinant of conservatism but clear causal evidence is not yet established. Using a natural experiment setting, wherein a Delaware court ruled that the fiduciary duties of directors in near insolvent Delaware companies extend to creditors, we predict and find that firms subject to the ruling significantly increased their accounting conservatism. Additionally, our results suggest that the increase in conservatism is more pronounced in near insolvent Delaware firms with stronger boards, confirming that the court ruling takes effect through the channel of board of directors. Our results are robust to using alternative measures of conservatism and near insolvency status, and controlling for potential confounding factors and other stakeholders’ demand for conservatism. Overall, our study provides empirical evidence to support the causal relation between debtholders’ demand and accounting conservatism previously suggested in the literature, and offers some insights into the role of board of directors in financial reporting.
Keywords: Conservatism, fiduciary duties, near insolvency, board governance
JEL Classification: M40, M41
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation