The Effect of CEO Compensation on Real Earnings Management

Detta är en Uppsats för yrkesexamina på avancerad nivå från Umeå universitet/Företagsekonomi

Sammanfattning: Real earnings management has been a subject of increasing debate ever since the passing of the Sarbanes-Oxley act in the united states. As research has pointed towards real earnings management increasing this has sparked discussions on whether real earnings management is damaging to companies, or if it is benefiting them, or if it lies somewhere in between. Forthis paper we wanted to examine how the financial incentives of a CEO would affect the usage of real earnings management. Are CEO’s being poorly motivated, and as a result harming their companies? To guide the paper,we decide to formulate our research question thusly: How do different forms of CEO compensation affect real earnings management? In this paper we attempt to find correlations between indicators of realearnings management and threedifferent forms of CEO compensation. For our indicators we follow to a paper by Roychowdhury, titled “Earnings Management Through Real Activities Manipulation”and calculate abnormal cash flow from operations, and abnormal production. These indicate usageof overproduction, reduction of discretionary expenses, and moving sales across periods (Roychowdhury, 2006). For forms of CEO compensation,we measure them as a ratio of total compensation. We track salary, bonuses, and stock ownership. In our results we can see that all three of these are significantly correlated to both of our real earnings management indicators. Bonuses have a positive correlation to abnormal production, and a negative correlation to abnormal cash flow from operations. Salary is positively correlated to both our indicators, and ownership is negatively correlated to both our indicators. Our final conclusion is that yes, the makeup of a CEO’s compensation has a significant effect on the usage of real earnings management within the company.

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