The Effect of Firms Characteristics on Real Earnings Management in the Listed Industrial Goods Firms in Nigeria
Earnings management has been a debatable topic to researchers, regulators, standard setters, and investors in the 21st century. It raised a great concern among the stakeholders because of some accounting practices that threaten the quality of corporate financial reporting and erode public confidence in the reported earnings. Managers have a tendency to avoid the release of bad earnings news at times of earnings announcements and as such managers can manipulate earnings through discretionary accounting choices (accrual-based earnings management) or by structuring real transactions and/or changing their timing (real earnings management). A vast financial reporting literature examined accrual-based earnings management with little attention to real earnings management. This study examined the determinants of real earnings management through real activities in the listed industrial goods firms in Nigeria. The study covers a sample of 10 industrial goods firms for a period of 7 years (2009-2015). The study employed correlational research design and panel regression technique of data analysis. The study found after controlling for firm size that firm leverage, ROA, board size and board composition have significant statistical negative effect on real earnings management in the sample industrial goods firms. The findings also revealed that institutional ownership have an insignificant positive effect on real earnings management during the period covered by the study. The study also found that audit quality (proxy by auditor-type, Big4 and Non-Big4) has an insignificant positive effect on real earnings management of the listed industrial goods firms in Nigeria. The study recommends that the regulators and policy makers in Nigeria should consider real earnings management when making policy to minimize managerial opportunistic practices in corporate reporting. The study also recommends that the Securities and Exchange Commission and NSE should review the code of corporate governance by increasing the composition of the board of directors of listed companies. This could improve the corporate governance quality and its ability to constrain earnings management in all its forms.