Can Inclusion in Religious Index Membership Mitigate Earnings Management?
Journal of Business Ethics, 2019
Posted: 17 Sep 2019
Date Written: September 6, 2019
This paper investigates whether religious-based index membership is important in mitigating earnings management. Using a large sample of firms domiciled across 12 European countries, our empirical results show that firms included in the Shariah-compliant index, as a proxy for religious index, are more likely to engage in accruals manipulation vis-a-vis non-Shariah-compliant firms. Our results are robust using the Heckman two-stage treatment effect model, weighted least squares model, alternative earnings quality metrics and after controlling for the potential effects of home-country characteristics. Furthermore, our empirical results indicate that corporate governance of Shariah-compliant firms does not constrain managerial opportunistic behaviour in misreporting earnings, and firms that with low scores of board functions, shareholder rights and vision and strategy are more likely to engage in earnings management. Further, Shariah-compliant firms domiciled in Coordinated Market Economies are more likely to manipulate earnings than those in Liberal Market Economies. Taken together, our findings suggest that the Shariah index membership does not indicate good corporate governance that can mitigate earnings management, and it may serve as a legitimacy mechanism to conform to stakeholders’ expectations. Our findings support arguments that the religious-based index membership is plausibly used as a ‘label’ and an impression management tool to attract investment.
Keywords: Shariah-compliant investments; Earnings management; Financial reporting; Corporate governance
JEL Classification: G30; M41
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation