Does Ex Ante Severance Pay Affect the Timeliness of Bad News Disclosure? The Role of Managerial Exit Costs

41 Pages Posted: 4 Jul 2016 Last revised: 24 Mar 2020

See all articles by Herita T. Akamah

Herita T. Akamah

University of Nebraska at Lincoln - School of Accountancy

Bryan Brockbank

University of Oklahoma - School of Accounting

Sydney Qing Shu

Miami University of Ohio - Department of Accountancy

Date Written: September 16, 2019

Abstract

Extant literature documents a positive association between ex ante severance pay and timeliness of bad news disclosure, suggesting that the provision of severance pay is consistent with efficient contracting. Relying on an empirically unexplored theory, we investigate whether and how managerial exit costs (i.e., financial and non-financial losses triggered by employment termination) affect the effectiveness of severance pay in curbing bad news withholding. We find that managerial exit costs attenuate the positive association between severance pay and timely disclosure of bad news. Moreover, we document that severance pay does not prompt managers to reveal bad news when their exit costs are sufficiently high (i.e., in the top quartile). This result suggests that exit costs erode the efficacy of ex ante severance pay in curtailing bad news withholding. Overall, our findings support the notion that an “one-size-fits-all” approach to structuring severance agreements undermines the potential of severance pay to benefit investors.

Keywords: ex ante severance pay; disclosure timeliness; managerial exit costs; bad news disclosure; efficient contracting

Suggested Citation

Akamah, Herita T. and Brockbank, Bryan and Shu, Sydney Qing, Does Ex Ante Severance Pay Affect the Timeliness of Bad News Disclosure? The Role of Managerial Exit Costs (September 16, 2019). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2803677 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2803677

Herita T. Akamah

University of Nebraska at Lincoln - School of Accountancy ( email )

307 College of Business Administration
Lincoln, NE 68588-0488
United States

Bryan Brockbank

University of Oklahoma - School of Accounting ( email )

Norman, OK 73019-4004
United States

Sydney Qing Shu (Contact Author)

Miami University of Ohio - Department of Accountancy

3094 Farmer School of Business
800 E. High St.
Oxford, OH 45056
United States

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