Tournament Incentives and Reserve Management
50 Pages Posted: 12 Jan 2020
Date Written: December 03, 2019
This paper examines the relation between tournament incentives and reserve management. We find a positive relation between internal tournament incentives and reserve errors, implying that a larger pay gap as a tournament prize induces vice presidents (VPs) to overestimate loss reserves. In other words, a higher tournament prize is associated with conservative loss reserve management. Unlike the literature, we do not find a positive relation between tournament incentive and profits (risk taking behavior). Taken together, the evidence indicates that VPs focus on strong financial health of the firm instead of its profitability. In addition, we find the impact of internal tournament incentives on the reserve error is more pronounced for larger, financially weak and more geographically focused firms, and is mitigated for the firms with higher percentage of claim loss reserve over total liability and paying relatively higher tax rates. Our results also suggest that SOX mitigates the conservative reserve behavior. Finally, we also find that as board independence enhances, VPs induced by promotion-based tournaments become more likely to have conservative reserve behavior.
Keywords: Internal tournament, Earnings management, Performance, Risk taking
JEL Classification: C23, G22, G32, G34, J31, J33, M41
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