Earnings Management, Capital Structure and the Role of Institutional Environments
47 Pages Posted: 29 Jan 2013
Date Written: January 28, 2013
This paper examines the effect of earnings management on financial leverage and how this relation is influenced by institutional environments by employing a large panel of 25,798 firms across 37 countries spanning the years 1989 to 2009. We find that firms with high earnings management activities are associated with high corporate leverage. More importantly, this positive relation is attenuated by strong institutional environments. Our results lend strong support to the notions that (1) both corporate debt and institutional environments can be served as external control mechanisms to alleviate the agency cost of free cash flow; and (2) it is less costly to rely on institutional environments than debt. Various robustness tests confirm our main conclusions.
Keywords: Earnings management, agency conflicts, empirical capital structure, institutional environments
JEL Classification: G32, G15
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