The usefulness of financial accounting information: Evidence from the field

Abstract

We examine how investment professionals assess the usefulness of financial accounting information depending on their information acquisition objectives and preparers’ earnings management incentives. We conduct a survey experiment based on face-to-face interviews with investment professionals and document two main results. First, we find that, compared with investment professionals assigned a firm valuation objective, those assigned a managerial performance evaluation objective assess accounting information as significantly less useful. Second, we find no systematic evidence that preparers’ earnings management incentives negatively affect investment professionals’ assessments of accounting information usefulness. To elucidate this second finding, we conduct a large-scale follow-up online experiment. Our results continue to offer no support for the effect of earnings management incentives on investment professionals’ assessments of accounting information usefulness, irrespective of preparers’ corporate governance quality. Instead, we find that poor corporate governance, by itself, reduces the usefulness of accounting information to investment professionals.

Participating Institutions

TRR 266‘s main locations are Paderborn University (Coordinating University), HU Berlin, and University of Mannheim. All three locations have been centers for accounting and tax research for many years. They are joined by researchers from LMU Munich, Frankfurt School of Finance and Management, WHU – Otto Beisheim School of Management, ESMT Berlin, Goethe University Frankfurt and Carl von Ossietzky University Oldenburg who share the same research agenda.