Effects of Accounting Conservatism on Investment Efficiency and Innovation
51 Pages Posted: 19 May 2016 Last revised: 27 Nov 2019
Date Written: November 25, 2019
We study how biases in financial reporting affect managers' incentives to develop innovative projects and to make appropriate investment decisions. Conservative reporting practices impose stricter verification standards for recognizing good news, and reduce the chance that risky innovations will lead to favorable future earnings reports. Holding all else constant, more conservative reporting therefore weakens the manager's incentive to work on innovative ideas, consistent with informal arguments in the extant literature. However, all else does not stay constant because the manager's pay plan will change in response to changes in the accounting system. We show that under optimal contracting, more conservative accounting does not stifle innovation in organizations, but rather increases incentives for innovation, as long as conservatism reduces the risk of an overstatement.
Keywords: Optimal contracting, Innovation, Accounting conservatism, Investment efficiency
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