Lying to Speak the Truth: Selective Manipulation and Improved Information Transmission
62 Pages Posted: 3 Dec 2019 Last revised: 13 Dec 2022
Date Written: November 16, 2019
We analyze a principal-agent model in which an effort-averse agent can manipulate a publicly observable performance report. The principal cannot observe the agent's cost of effort, her effort choice, and whether she manipulated the report. An optimal contract links compensation to the eventually realized output and, in certain situations, to the (possibly manipulated) report. We show that the optimal contract may incentivize selective manipulation of an unfavorable report by an agent who exerted a high level of effort. Doing so can convert a "falsely" negative report into a positive one, thereby making the report more informative about the agent's effort choice.
Keywords: Adverse Selection, Moral Hazard, Performance Manipulation, Earnings Management, Corporate Governance, Executive Compensation
JEL Classification: D82, D86, G34, M12, M41
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation