Different means of earnings management of owner-managed firms versus agent-led firms: evidence from chaebols in Korea

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This paper examines the earnings management behavior of large, family-controlled business groups (so-called ‘chaebol’) in Korea from 2006 to 2010. Specifically, the author studies whether the methods of earnings management are different between chaebol firms versus non-chaebol firms. The author finds no significant difference in accrual-based earnings management by these two types of firms. However, the author shows that chaebol firms’ real-based earnings management is greater than non-chaebol firms, based on their higher abnormal production costs and lower abnormal discretionary expenses, in order to manipulate accounting income upward. The results suggest that owner-managed firms tend to choose real manipulation which negatively affects future corporate performance and consequently mislead investors about the firm value

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