Empirical goodwill research: Insights, issues, and implications for standard setting and future research

Abstract

This paper reviews the empirical literature on the determinants and decision usefulness of goodwill reporting. We structure our discussion around five guiding questions that reflect longstanding policy issues: recognition, initial and subsequent measurement, disclosure, and the role of governance and monitoring. In addition to summarizing the findings, we assess the validity of the evidence. Our review indicates that goodwill amounts, on average, are associated with the underlying economics of the combining firms but are also shaped by managerial incentives and institutional context. Empirical research does not allow us to conclude whether current goodwill accounting rules provide for an optimal degree of discretion. Nonetheless, our analysis yields a number of policy implications and research suggestions. In addition to pointing out new research questions that could be addressed by further archival research, we advocate reproduction studies to test the generalizability of existing findings across contexts, and we encourage standard setters to initiate quasi-experiments to generate causal evidence and to render policymaking more accountable. We further suggest that researchers make more use of behavioral theories and non-archival methods to elucidate the motives and interactions of decision-makers in goodwill accounting.

Beteiligte Institutionen

Die Hauptstandorte vom TRR 266 sind die Universität Paderborn (Sprecherhochschule), die HU Berlin und die Universität Mannheim. Alle drei Standorte sind seit vielen Jahren Zentren für Rechnungswesen- und Steuerforschung. Hinzu kommen Wissenschaftler der LMU München, der Frankfurt School of Finance and Management, der WHU – Otto Beisheim School of Management, der ESMT Berlin, der Goethe-Universität Frankfurt und der Carl von Ossietzky Universität Oldenburg, die die gleiche Forschungsagenda verfolgen.