Free Cash Flow And Earnings Management: The Moderating Role Of Governance And Ownership

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Mehdi Nekhili
Ines Fakhfakh Ben Amar
Tawhid Chtioui
Faten Lakhal

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Abstract

The purpose of this paper is to analyze the moderating effect of corporate governance and ownership features in lessening earnings management practices in a free cash flow (FCF) situation. A simultaneous equations model is developed to address endogeneity of the FCF variable. Based on a sample of French companies belonging to the SBF 120 index from 2001 to 2010, the results highlight the opportunistic behavior of managers in presence of free cash flows. Particularly, managers engage in earnings management practices that increase reported earnings. Our results also show that corporate governance mechanisms such as audit committee independence and external audit quality, in addition to institutional investors and managerial ownership reduce the extent of earnings management. Corporate governance mechanisms are substitutive in their monitoring role of managers’ behavior to reduce earnings management in presence of a free cash flow problem. 

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