The association between earnings management and asset misappropriation

Dan Bee Song, Ho Young Lee, Eun Jung Cho

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Citations (Scopus)


Purpose: The purpose of this paper is to examine whether earnings management is related to incidence of fraud and the amount of misappropriated assets. By examining the research question, this study seeks to improve our understanding of using the accrual basis of accounting in identifying the misappropriation of assets. Design/methodology/approach: This study analyzes 173 sample firms that announced asset misappropriation in the period from 2006 to 2010 in Korea. The study utilizes logistic and linear regressions to test the hypothetical relations set up in the study using discretionary accruals as a proxy of the earnings management. Additionally, the authors performed the robustness test using estimated accruals as a supplementary proxy of the earnings management. Findings: The authors find that misappropriation of assets has a significant positive association with discretionary accruals. Interestingly, this relationship only holds for firms with negative discretionary accruals. The results suggest that the accrual basis of accounting provides a clue towards uncovering management's misappropriation of assets and thus, plays an important role in reducing existing information asymmetry. Practical implications: The authors' findings would assist practitioners in detecting asset misappropriation through financial reporting quality and investors and auditors should be more alert to negative discretionary accruals. Originality/value: There are some studies that examine asset misappropriation. However, most of them are focused on the relation between asset misappropriation and corporate governance. To the best of the authors' knowledge, this is the first study that examines the association between financial reporting quality (i.e. discretionary accruals) and asset misappropriation. The authors' findings provide evidence of the usefulness of accrual basis of accounting in detecting fraud and enhance the understanding of income-decreasing earnings management.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)542-567
Number of pages26
JournalManagerial Auditing Journal
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 2013 Jun

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Accounting
  • Business, Management and Accounting(all)
  • Economics, Econometrics and Finance(all)


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