Organization identity and earnings manipulation

13 Jun 2018

Management scholars are beginning to provide empirical evidence that organization identity (OI) can be a powerful means of reducing agency costs. We examine whether an individual's identity with the firm influences the agency costs associated with incentive contracts, namely earnings manipulation. Based on OI theory, we expect that managers who identify with the firm gain utility by taking actions that in their view benefits the firm, and experience disutility from taking actions that are harmful to the firm. Drawing on a third-party survey database, we find that performance-based compensation is associated with higher levels of earnings manipulation. Importantly, we also find that managers with incentive-based compensation engage in lower levels of opportunistic earnings manipulation when they identify with the firm.