Some theoretical and methodological suggestions for studies examining accountants' professional judgments and earnings management

Philip Heinz*, Chris Patel, Andreas Hellmann

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

10 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

The objective of this paper is to provide theoretical and methodological suggestions to guide future research on the controversial topics of accountants' professional judgments and earnings management. Based on an evaluation of prior research, this paper provides four suggestions. First, it is suggested that a focus on the influence of personality variables is likely to provide sharper insights into judgments of individuals. Two relevant personality variables have been selected for this paper, namely, Construal of Self and Regulatory Focus Theory. Both Construal of Self and Regulatory Focus Theory have been, primarily in psychology literature, proven as valid and relevant for judgments, decisions and behavior. Second, prior literature conducted studies on earnings management and ethical issues to a large extent in the United States, often assuming that findings are generalizable and transferable to other countries. Given the importance of contextual factors and of gaining insights from global perspectives, the examination of nations with different contextual environments and particularly of countries in which ethical issues have not been rigorously examined, is suggested. Third, prior research has largely relied on simplistic unidimensional ethics measures that are unlikely to capture the complexity of accountants' professional judgments. It is suggested that a combination of a unidimensional measure and 'Multidimensional Ethics Measure' (MEM) provides richer insights into judgments. Fourth, this paper also suggests measuring "holier-than-thou" perception bias. "Holier-than-thou" perception bias means that individuals consider themselves as more ethical than their peers. This bias is important because it may foster an unethical organizational culture. Some of the suggestions included in this paper may provide useful guidance for future studies examining accountants' professional judgments and earnings management.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)299-311
Number of pages13
JournalAdvances in Accounting
Volume29
Issue number2
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2013

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