Organizational structure and earnings management

Kin Wai Lee*, Baruch Lev, Gillian Yeo

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


In this study, we identify a fundamental attribute of the organizational structure of the firm - the intensity of interdivisional transaction relatedness and complementarity - which contributes to earnings management. We draw from the theoretical economics literature that demonstrates that intrafirm collusion is more likely in hierarchical and complex organizational structure. We posit that intrafirm collusion toward a common organizational goal is more prevalent in highly related organizational structure because the economic welfare of economic agents is highly interdependent. Consistent with our hypothesis, we find that earnings management is positively associated with organizational relatedness. We also find that, for firms with high organizational relatedness, those with a high proportion of outside directors and high institutional equity ownership have less pronounced earnings management. Collectively, our result suggests an interaction between corporate governance structure and organizational relatedness in affecting earnings quality.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)293-331
Number of pages39
JournalJournal of Accounting, Auditing and Finance
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2007
Externally publishedYes


  • Corporate governance
  • Earnings management
  • Organizational structure


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