Capital Rationing, Accounting Quality and Investment Efficiency

50 Pages Posted: 27 Mar 2019 Last revised: 26 Dec 2020

See all articles by Gilles Hilary

Gilles Hilary

Georgetown University - Department of Accounting and Business Law

Mark (Shuai) Ma

University of Pittsburgh - Accounting Group

Wenjia Yan

The University of Hong Kong

Date Written: March 6, 2019

Abstract

Prior research documents significant inefficiencies of corporate capital expenditures. However, a firm’s internal investment decision process remains mostly an empirical black box. Using manually collected data, we decompose the investment process into two stages: budgeting of capital expenditures and execution of the budget. Consistent with the theoretical prediction that boards use capital rationing in budgets to counter managerial empire building, we find that boards place restrictions on capital spending in investment budgets initially but allow managers to use additional capital for follow-up projects. While some managers use their discretions to incorporate economic news in their investment decisions, many others engage in empire building in the execution stage. We find more capital rationing and more opportunistic execution behavior in firms with lower accounting quality. These findings together support the existence of capital rationing in internal corporate investment process. Our study contributes to a better understanding of how firms make investment decisions internally and the important role of accounting quality.

Keywords: Capital budget, Budget execution, Investment efficiency

JEL Classification: M41, G31, D81

Suggested Citation

Hilary, Gilles and Ma, Mark (Shuai) and Yan, Wenjia, Capital Rationing, Accounting Quality and Investment Efficiency (March 6, 2019). Georgetown McDonough School of Business Research Paper No. 3347421, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3347421 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3347421

Gilles Hilary

Georgetown University - Department of Accounting and Business Law ( email )

McDonough School of Business
Washington, DC 20057
United States

Mark (Shuai) Ma (Contact Author)

University of Pittsburgh - Accounting Group ( email )

United States

Wenjia Yan

The University of Hong Kong ( email )

Pokfulam Road
Hong Kong, Pokfulam HK
China

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