Earnings Management -- Does Corporate Sustainability Performance Matter?
University of Zurich, Department of Business Administration, UZH Business Working Paper No. 358
21 Pages Posted: 17 Nov 2015
Date Written: October 1, 2015
This study investigates the relationship between corporate sustainability performance and earnings management practices in a European setting. We measure earnings management based on discretionary accruals (cash flow approach) and real activity management. Corporate sustainability performance is a multi-dimensional construct that is measured based on data provided by the CSRHub database. Employing a European sample of 1,426 firm-year observations, our results reveal a negative relationship between corporate sustainability performance and earnings management activities. This finding supports the notion that a broad and integrated approach of sustainability performance constrains the use of earnings management practices. The results are consistent with recent research on U.S. non-financial companies (Kim et al. 2012), indicating the application of similar principles in U.S. and European settings. Additional analyses reveal that this relationship is particularly applicable to the environmental and community dimensions of sustainability, whereas we find only limited empirical evidence on this relationship for the employee dimension. Taken together, our study provides further evidence regarding the relevance of corporate sustainability in the financial context.
Keywords: corporate sustainability performance, earnings management, discretionary accruals, real activity management, legitimacy theory, stakeholder theory
JEL Classification: M14, M41
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation