Corporate Lobbying, Visibility and Accounting Conservatism
Journal of Business Finance and Accounting, Forthcoming.
43 Pages Posted: 2 Mar 2017
Date Written: March 1, 2017
In this study, we examine the relationship between a firm’s lobbying activities and financial reporting quality using a U.S. setting where public scrutiny of corporate political activities is high. More importantly, we examine whether and how a firm’s visibility shapes the relationship between its corporate lobbying activities and accounting conservatism. Adopting annual lobbying expenditure data to measure firms’ lobbying activities, and using a propensity-score-matching methodology to control for differences in firm characteristics between lobbying and non-lobbying firms, we find a positive relationship between a firm’s lobbying intensity and the degree of accounting conservatism in its financial reporting. We further find such positive relationship to be more pronounced in lobbying firms with a higher level of visibility. These results are robust after controlling for a firm’s political connections, across various conditional conservatism measures, and across a number of visibility measures including firm size, the number of analysts following the firm, the age of the firm, the number of foreign stock exchanges that the firm is cross-listed in, and the level of the firm’s media coverage. Together, our findings add to the literature on how firms’ political activities shape their accounting practices in general, and accounting conservatism in particular. More importantly, our findings suggest that the heightened public attention paid to political activities in the U.S. yields incentives for firms to be more conservative in their accounting practices.
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