Effect Of Corporate Governance On Earnings Management Practices Of Nigeria Quoted Companies

Project and Seminar Material for Accountancy / Accounting

Effect Of Corporate Governance On Earnings Management Practices Of Nigeria Quoted Companies


Abstract


This study aims at examining the effect of corporate governance on earnings management practices in selected quoted companies in Nigeria. A total of 134 respondents were selected from the population figure out of which the sample size was determined. Data collected will be analyzed using frequency table, percentage and mean score analysis while the nonparametric statistical test (Chi-square) was used to test the formulated hypothesis using SPSS (statistical package for social sciences). The results of this study have shown that, among our studied firms, corporate governance has an influence on earnings managers. Audit committee independence does not have significant effect on earnings managerial practices of Nigeria quoted companies.


Chapter One


Introduction

Background of the Study

Financial scandals around the world and the recent collapse of major corporate institutions in the United State of America (USA), South East Asia, Europe, and Africa such as Adelphia, Enron, commercial Banks and recently XL Holidays have shaken investors’ faith in the capital market and the efficacy of existing corporate governance practices in promoting transparency and accountability. This has brought to the fore once again the need for the practice of good corporate governance (Kajola, 2008). Corporate governance is about ensuring that the business is run well and investors receive a fair return. Organisation for Economic Corporation and Development (OECD), (1999) provides a more encompassing definition of corporate governance. It defines corporate governance as the system by which business corporations are directed and controlled. The corporate governance structures specify the distribution of rights and responsibilities among different participants in the corporation such as the board, managers, shareholders and other stake holders, and spells out the rules and procedures for making decisions on corporate affairs. Kang and Kim (2011) note that management could influence reported earnings by making accounting choices or by making operating decisions discretionally. According to Ebraheam, Saleem and Alzonbi (2012), the integrity of financial reporting system was being questioned due to the failure of the board to oversight its implementation. Defond and Francis (2005) claimed that the corporate collapse consequence has renewed the significance of corporate governance minority role. Earnings Management has consistently raised severe concerns about corporate governance practices in a broad-spectrum. Also, it has brought to spotlight issues relating to quality of financial reporting and the weak internal control system among firms (Ebrahim, 2007; Kanchanapoomi, 2005; Bellow, 2011; & Uwuigbe, 2013). The Corporate failures of such large organizations in the past have highlighted the intentional misconduct of managers in a wider-spectrum. In addition, there are apprehensions about the weakness of corporate governance in the past as it was not effective enough to protect investors from expropriation (Uwuigbe, Daramola & Anjolaoluwa, 2014). Earnings management affects firm performance and can even temper with shareholders wealth simply because it involves a deliberate altering of financial information to either misled investors on the underlying economic status of a firm or to gain some contractual benefits that depend largely on accounting numbers, (Watts & Zimmerman, 1986; Healy & Wahlen, 1999). Earnings management as acceptable as it is within the bounds of Generally Accepted Accounting Principle (GAAP) has been a concern to investors, policy makers and researchers across the globe. Gulzer and Wuhan (2011) note that the nature of earnings management provides managers the opportunity to manipulate the financial information of firms in order to get their own benefit. Unlike fraud, earnings management involves the selection of accounting procedures and estimates that confirms to the generally accepted accounting procedures manipulations (Rahman & Ali, 2006). In Nigeria, this was further heightened subsequent to the collapse of several financial and non-financial institutions which includes the bank PHB, Spring bank plc, Oceanic bank plc, Intercontinental bank plc, African petroleum plc, Levers Brothers and Cadbury plc. An investigation into the cause revealed significant, deep-rooted problems in the account preparation and also the intentional misconduct of managers which led to the concurrent sack of eight (8) bank chiefs by the Governor of Central Bank of Nigeria and the call for an investigation of the efficacy of the monitoring and controlling of managerial and financial behaviour of managers (Ndukwe & Onwuchekwa, 2014). A good corporate governance structure helps to ensure that the management properly utilize the enterprises resources in the best interest of absentee owners, and fairly reports the financial condition and operating performance of the enterprise (Lin & Hwang, 2010). It is on this note that the study aims at examining corporate governance and earnings management practices in selected quoted companies in Nigeria.


Statement of the Problem

The recent business failures demonstrate what happens when corporate governance fails. These failures also raise some fundamental questions such as; the dependability of financial information, audit independence, the role of regulators, company management, the role of the board of directors, conflict of interest and of course, the question of ethics and professionalism.

The manipulations of financial statements and subsequent corporate collapses are currently recurring phenomena globally. Various countries have tried to address this situation in order to guarantee the credibility of the financial statements through ensuring strong corporate mechanisms and strict compliance with accounting standards. Since the 1990s, the Nigerian corporate world has been beset bank distresses, corporate frauds and collapses in various dimensions. According to Ani (2014), the reported cases of fraudulent financial reporting by Cadbury Nigeria Plc and Lever Brothers Nigeria Plc led to the drafting of the Code of Corporate Governance of Public companies in Nigeria known as the 2003 Code of Corporate Governance of public companies in Nigeria (security and exchange code, Sec 2003) and later the corporate governance code of Nigeria, 2005 and currently amended in 2011. But, despite the introduction of the codes of best governance practices in Nigeria in 2011 and its continuous modifications, the result that it has achieved can be said to be minimal as there are fresh cases of governance malpractices that threaten the survival of quite a number of firms in different sectors of the economy (Hassan & Ahmed, 2012).

Regulators of accounting profession in Nigeria seem to be silent on the issue of earnings management accounting yet it is widely practice among many companies in the country. Users of accounting information seem not to have perceived this practice of earnings management which has led to collapse of many major companies globally such as Enron and WorldCom (Ayala & Giancarlo 2006) and locally such as African Petroleum Plc, Leventis, Cadbury plc, Exide battery etc.

With increasing harsh economic times, companies may be propelled to practice earnings management for diverse reasons. Carrying out research on corporate governance and earnings management in Nigeria quoted companies will help the players in accounting profession to empirically understand the propelling mechanisms behind the practice of earnings management in Nigeria. Predicated on this, the study is set out to examine the influence of corporate governance on earnings management practices among Nigeria listed companies.


Objectives of the Study

Generally, this study seeks to explore the influence of corporate governance on earnings management practices in Nigeria listed firms.

However, it is set to achieve the following specific objectives:

  1. To determine the joint effect of board size, board independence and audit committee independence on earnings management practices of Nigeria quoted companies.
  2. To determine the influence of board size on earnings management practices of Nigeria quoted companies.
  3. To examine the influence of board independence on earnings management practices of Nigeria quoted companies
  4. To evaluate the extent to which audit committee independence affect earnings management practices of Nigeria quoted companies.

Research Questions

Predicted on the above objectives, the following research questions were raised:

  1. How have board size, board Independence and Audit Committee Independence jointly influenced the earnings management practices of Nigeria quoted companies?
  2. To what extent has the board size influenced earnings management practices of Nigeria quoted companies?
  3. To what extent does Board Independence influence earnings management of Nigeria quoted companies?
  4. How Audit Committee Independence does affect earnings management practices of Nigeria quoted companies?

Hypotheses

To proffer useful answers to the research questions and realize the study objectives, the following null hypotheses were tested at 5% level of significance:

  1. The joint effect of board size, board independence and audit committee independence on earnings management practices of Nigeria quoted companies is not significant.
  2. The influence of board size on earnings management practices of Nigeria quoted companies is not significant.
  3. Influence of board independence on earnings management of Nigeria quoted companies is not significant.
  4. Audit committee Independence does not have significant effect on earnings management practices of Nigeria quoted companies.

Significance of the Study

The study therefore will be useful to different groups like: Investors, Shareholders, Policy makers/Regulatory bodies, and Academics.

Findings of this study will help investors in investment decisions making while serving as a catalyst to policy makers in policy formulation, implementation and monitoring in order to improve the level of corporate governance in Nigeria. This will enlighten the shareholders on the essence of good corporate governance practices and the negative impact of creative accounting on a financial statement.

It will equally help the policy makers take charge of regulating the market. All market systems are regulated to ensure stability in the economy. Regulatory bodies are responsible for developing standards of practices guiding the activities of most corporations. This study will therefore be of immense contribution to them by providing a guide to the use of tools that could become standards corporate practice.

This study is meant to add to the existing literature on the topic of corporate governance and earnings management. Moreover the empirical nature of this study is meant to enlighten researchers on areas for further research studies that would help explain the relationship between corporate governance and earnings management.


Scope and Limitations of the Study

This study seeks to examine the connection between corporate governance and earnings management. It is worthy of note that the literature on earnings management encompasses a wide range of creative accounting techniques used by managers in order to achieve organizational goals. The researcher therefore utilised data extracted from a total of 12 quoted companies in Nigerian stock exchange for a period of 2010-2015. Annual reports for 6 years from 2010 to 2015 of selected firms were available. The basis for selecting this period is predicated on the recent implementation of corporate governance code of operations (2011) for quoted companies in Nigeria Stock Exchange.

The sample size was limited to companies in the consumer goods sector, industrial and health care sector. This is because some of the companies quoted on the Nigeria stock exchange where not consistence in presentation of their annual report.


Operational Definition of Terms

Audit Committee:

The Audit committee refers to the governance body that is charged with oversight of the organization’s audit and control functions

Board Size:

This is defined as the number of directors both executive and non-executive directors on the board of a company

Corporate Governance:

The methods by which suppliers of finance control managers in order to ensure that their capital cannot be expropriated and that they earn a return on their investment. It is also a system by which business corporations are directed and controlled.

Earnings Management:

This is an activity where managers use their discretion to mislead stakeholders about the economic performance of the company or to influence contractual outcomes.

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Conclusion and Recommendation


The result of this study has shown that, among our studied firms, corporate governance has an influence on earnings management. The issue of corporate governance has come to stay as a veritable concept needed to achieve efficiency, increased productivity and growth in the economy. The key to wealth creation and the maintenance of a free society requires that a broad-based system of accountability be built into the corporate governance structure of corporations. Against this backdrop, the researchers recommended that:

Improvements in Corporate Governance Codes on Trivial issues that can influence managerial ability to engage in earnings management should be addressed, Issues such:

  1. Audit Quality/Strength and Engagement Procedure should be addressed;
  2. Board Related Issues: This should encompass matters on corporate board size and composition, moreover a more qualitative issue of the qualification of directors and basis of appointment should also be looked at; and,
  3. The issue of Non-executive directors: Most of our studied companies do not disclose adequate information on the activities of non-executive directors. This disclosure is encouraged in order to improve transparency of the activities of corporations.

Secondly, the Financial Reporting Council of Nigeria (FRCN) must do more in ensuring that companies operating in Nigeria comply with the IFRS. She must strengthen her operation towards inspecting, investigating and monitoring companies’ compliance. Further FRCN should also work in issuing new standards or reviewing existing ones to narrow the gaps or address the grey areas which give rooms for managers to engage in creative accounting practices
Thirdly, there is need for heavy sanctioning for any auditor who joins management in such ignoble act, and also to encourage the audit-committee members for more effective performance to curtail the practices in Nigeria. An auditor should not hesitate to qualify the account if the company is unable or unwilling to prepare financial statement, which gives a true and fair view.

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