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Motives Of Earnings Management

Malek El Diri
Published 2018 · Economics

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The three main theories that explain earnings management suggest three main groups of motives for this phenomenon. According to contracting theory, contractual motives exist based on the conflicts in the contract terms between the firm and its stakeholders that are linked to firm performance. Bounded rationality theory implies the inefficiency of the market in reflecting firms’ intrinsic values and thus suggests the existence of capital market motives that influence firms’ stock values. Finally, external (third-party) motives arise from parties that have current or future interests in the firm and thus interfere in the way it communicates information to the stakeholders. The three groups of motives are not completely distinct because more than one theory may explain a specific motive. Such motives influence firm performance which, in turn, plays a mediating role in determining earnings management behaviour and thus can be identified as a distinct fourth group.
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