Advisor

Addy, Noel

Committee Member

Watson, Marcia

Committee Member

Rigsby, John T.

Committee Member

Highfield, Michael

Committee Member

Sullivan, Joe H.

Date of Degree

1-1-2008

Document Type

Dissertation - Open Access

Major

Business Administration

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

College

College of Business

Department

Department of Accounting

Abstract

The bias implied by conservatism in accounting and its impact on information risk in equity markets is the subject of considerable debate. On one hand, opponents of conservatism believe that any kind of biased information is actually misinformation and thus increases uncertainty. Perhaps most prominent among opponents of conservatism is the Financial Accounting Standards Board (FASB). The FASB contends that accounting information should be neutral—free from bias; a bias in favor of reporting either good or bad news is inconsistent with representational faithfulness and neutrality. On the other hand, proponents of conservatism point to incentives of management to manipulate financial statements by exaggerating apparent good news and/or hiding apparent bad news. Proponents argue that the bias implied by conservatism is necessary to offset the asymmetric reporting incentives of the firm’s management, and in so doing, conservatism allegedly improves information quality and reduces information risk. Finally, results of at least one recent study do not favor either position, suggesting that conservatism has no effect on information quality in equity market. This study finds that the bias implied by conservatism (bias in favor of reporting bad news) increases information risk in equity markets and consequently the cost of equity capital. Findings further indicate that sufficiently aggressive bias also increases information risk. That is, the market’s most aggressive firms, those reporting with a bias opposite that implied by conservatism, can reduce information risk by moving toward more neutral, unbiased reporting. Furthermore, the general effects of biased reporting (increased information risk) are consistent across all levels of information asymmetry among equity investors. These findings are interpreted as supporting the position of the FASB that biased accounting information increases information risk.

URI

https://hdl.handle.net/11668/19382

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