Evaluative Infrastructures: Accounting for distributed network production


Accounting Organizations and Society

juillet 2017, vol. 60, n°7, pp.79-95

Départements : Comptabilité et Contrôle de Gestion

Mots clés : AccountingHierarchical consciousnessEvaluationInfrastructurePlatform organization!

Platform organizations such as Uber, eBay and Airbnb represent a growing disruptive phenomenon in contemporary capitalism, transforming economic organization, the nature of work, and the distribution of wealth. This paper investigates the accounting practices that underpin this new form of organizing, and in doing so confronts a significant challenge within the accounting literature: the need to escape what Hopwood (1996) describes as its “hierarchical consciousness”. In order to do so, this paper develops the concept of evaluative infrastructure which describes accounting practices that enable platform based organization. They are evaluative because they deploy a plethora of interacting devices, including rankings, ratings, reviews, and audits to establish orders of worth. They are infrastructures because they provide the invisible yet essential mechanisms for the flow of economic activity and exchange on platforms. Illustrating the concept of evaluative infrastructure with the example of eBay, the paper's contribution is to (1) provide an analytical vocabulary to capture the accounting practices underpinning platforms as new organizational forms, and in so doing (2) extend accounting scholars' analytical focus from hierarchical settings towards heterarchies. Conceptually, this shift from management accounting to evaluative infrastructures entails a focus on relationality (evaluative infrastructures do not represent or reference but relate things, people and ideas with each other); generativity (evaluative infrastructures do not territorialize objects but disclose new worlds); and new forms of control (evaluative infrastructures are not centres of calculation; rather, control is radically distributed, whilst power remains centralized).

Letter from the Editor: Why Are Papers Desk Rejected at European Accounting Review? (note)


European Accounting Review

juillet 2017, vol. 26, n°3, pp.411-418

Départements : Comptabilité et Contrôle de Gestion, GREGHEC (CNRS)

The aim of this note is to present desk rejections made by EAR in 2016 and also to provide some suggestions to authors in order to avoid these desk rejections.(Partial reproduction of the Letter published in the EAA Newsletter No. 57, March 2017)Desk rejection is often feared by authors and generates a lot of disappointment. As explained by Craig (2010 Craig, J. B. (2010). Desk rejection: How to avoid being hit by a returning boomerang. Family Business Review, 23, 306–309. doi: 10.1177/0894486510386024[Crossref], [Web of Science ®], [Google Scholar], p. 306), ‘the stories of woe are commonplace in conference hotel bars, campus coffee shops, and faculty photocopy room conversations, and reactions are shared in colorful language in various post rejection emails and phone calls among disenchanted authors’.In a previous newsletter,11 all notes Salvador Carmona, Past Editor of EAR, had written a text on ‘Avoiding desk rejections’. In the present text, I would like to extend my predecessor’s view by adding some new insights, based on statistics drawn from my first year of editorship at EAR. These statistics will also highlight the unfortunate development of ethical issues.The aim of the present letter is not only to provide some suggestions to authors in order to avoid these desk rejections but also to explain the functioning of our journal in full transparency

Media bias and the persistence of the expectation gap: An analysis of press articles on corporate fraud


Journal of Business Ethics

septembre 2017, vol. 144, n°3, pp.637-659

Départements : Comptabilité et Contrôle de Gestion, GREGHEC (CNRS)

Mots clés : Expectation gap, Media bias, Corporate fraud, Management behavior, Press, Fraud-related professional standards

Prior research has documented the continued existence of an expectation gap, defined as the divergence between the public’s and the profession’s conceptions of auditor’s duties, despite the auditing profession’s attempt to adopt standards and practices to close this gap. In this paper, we consider one potential explanation for the persistence of the expectation gap: the role of media bias in shaping public opinion and views. We analyze press articles covering 40 U.S. corporate fraud cases discovered between 1992 and 2011. We compare the auditor’s duties, described by the auditing standards, with the description of the fraud cases as found in the press articles. We draw upon prior research to identify three sources of the expectation gap: deficient performance, deficient standards, and unreasonable expectations. The results of our analysis provide evidence that (1) the performance gap can be reduced by strengthening auditor’s willingness and ability to apply existing auditing standards concerning fraud detection; (2) the standards gap can be narrowed by improving existing auditing standards; and (3) unreasonable expectations, however, involve elements beyond the profession’s sphere of control. As a result, the expectation gap is unlikely to disappear given the media’s tendency to bias, with an overemphasis of unreasonable expectations in their coverage of frauds and press articles tending to reinforce the view that the auditor should take more responsibility for detecting fraud, irrespective of whether this is feasible at a reasonable cost. In addition to the primary role of the press in perpetuating the expectation gap, a second reason for continuation of the expectation gap is that the rational auditor will have difficulty in assessing subjective components of fraudulent behavior.

The Effect of Business and Financial Market Cycles on Credit Ratings: Evidence from the Last Two Decades



mars 2017, vol. 53, n°1, pp.59-93

Départements : Comptabilité et Contrôle de Gestion, GREGHEC (CNRS)

Mots clés : Business cycles; Credit rating agencies; Financial marketcycles; Investor reaction

We analyze the effect of business and financial market cycles on creditratings using a sample of firms from the Russell 3000 index that are ratedby Standard and Poor’s over the period 1986–2012. We also examine inves-tor reaction to credit rating actions in different stages of business andfinancial market cycles. We document that credit rating agencies areinfluenced by business and financial market cycles; they assign lower creditratings during downturns of business and financial market cycles andhigher ratings during upturns. Our study is the first to find strong evidenceof pro-cyclicality in credit ratings using a long window. We also documentstronger investor reaction to negative credit rating actions during down-turns. Our results confirm theoretical predictions and inform regulators

The Effect of Joint Auditor Pair Composition on Audit Quality: Evidence from Impairment Tests


Contemporary Accounting Research

Spring 2017, vol. 34, n°1, pp.118-153

Départements : Comptabilité et Contrôle de Gestion, GREGHEC (CNRS)

Mots clés : Joint Audits, Audit Quality, Auditor Independence, Impairment Testing, Conservatism

The Relationship between Lack of Controllability and Proactive Work Behaviour: An Empirical Analysis of Competing Theoretical Explanations


Accounting and Business Research

2017, vol. 47, n°2, pp.144-171

Départements : Comptabilité et Contrôle de Gestion

Mots clés : controllability principle, management control systems, role theory, role conflict, flexible role orientation, proactive work behaviour

The controllability principle suggests evaluating managers solely based on performance measures they can control. In practice, however, companies often disregard this principle. Therefore, our study addresses organisational benefits linked to the lack of controllability in measures used for managers’ performance evaluations. We draw on important case-based findings to establish a positive ‘base relationship’ between lack of controllability and proactive work behaviour. We test this base relationship with a large-scale sample and find that companies encourage higher levels of proactive work behaviour when they rely on less controllable performance measures. Drawing on recent developments in role theory, we advance previous research and extend the base model by including the theoretical construct of flexible role orientation. We examine different mechanisms through which flexible role orientation potentially impacts the base model. Using survey responses from 432 managers, we find evidence for a mediation model as opposed to an interaction model. Specifically, we find that lack of controllability enhances role conflict, which in turn induces more flexible role orientations ultimately resulting in higher levels of proactive work behaviour

Budgeting in times of economic crisis


Contemporary Accounting Research

Winter 2016, vol. 33, n°4, pp.1489–1517

Départements : Comptabilité et Contrôle de Gestion, GREGHEC (CNRS)

Mots clés : Budgeting, budgeting functions, economic crisis, crisis management

This paper examines how corporate reliance on budgets is affected by major changes in the economic environment. We combine survey and archival data from the economic crisis that began in 2008. The results indicate that, as a result of the economic crisis, budgeting became more important for planning and resource allocation but less important for performance evaluation. Additional evidence from interviews and data gathered in a focus group further illustrate these results and show the changes organizations have introduced to respond to the economic crisis. Taken together, and contrary to more general conclusions from the literature such as an overall increase or decrease in the importance of budgeting, we find that companies emphasize certain budgeting functions over others during economic crises

Disciplinary practices in the French auditing profession


Accounting, Auditing and Accountability Journal

2016, vol. 29, n°1, pp.11-42

Départements : Comptabilité et Contrôle de Gestion

Mots clés : Content analysis, Audit quality, Auditing, Disciplinary practices, Public accounting profession, Public interest

Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to contribute to understand the role of the statutory auditing profession in France. The study is theoretically based on distinctions between a functionalist view of professions and a neo-weberian view. Prior research, conducted in Anglo-American countries has shown that the auditing profession has focussed primarily on protecting the private interests of the profession. Hence, there is a need to conduct research on this topic in a code law country where the state is expected to play a significant role in protecting the public interest.Design/methodology/approach – The methodology involves a content analysis of 148 disciplinary decisions issued against statutory auditors in France from 1989 to 2006. This analysis identified 21 types of violations grouped into public interest or private interest offences. Because visible offences are public and are more likely to threaten the reputation of the profession, these types of decisions are also studied with respect to their visibility.Findings – The results reveal that in a code law country such as France the auditing profession tends to defend both the public interest as well as its private interests. The results also support the “visibility” effect.Research limitations/implications – The written disciplinary decisions have been anonymized so that the names of the auditors and the clients cannot be identified.Originality/value – This paper differs from previous studies conducted in the Anglo-American context which show an emphasis on protecting the private interests of the auditing profession. Moreover, this study reveals the existence of “mixed” offences and underlines that a profession primarily focusses on these cases. Thus, the work reconciles in part the functionalist and neo-weberian perspectives. Lastly, this paper confirms the importance of the visibility effect

Examining the patterns of goodwill impairments in Europe and the US


Accounting in Europe

2016, vol. 16, n°3, pp.329-352

Départements : Comptabilité et Contrôle de Gestion, GREGHEC (CNRS)

Mots clés : Goodwill, Impairment, IFRS 3, IAS 36, Europe, US

We examine the patterns of goodwill impairments in Europe and in the US over the period from 2006 to 2015, for a sample of more than 35,000 firm-year observations. We define the timeliness of goodwill impairments as the frequency of accounting impairments conditional to indications of economic impairments. We measure indications of economic impairment with three metrics: equity market value minus equity book value less than goodwill, market-to-book smaller than one, and negative EBITDA. Our research strategy leads us to draw very different conclusions than those in the recent EFRAG (2016) study. While median levels of goodwill on the books between US and European firms are relatively similar, we find several indications that US firms recognize timelier impairments, at least during 2008 and 2009, i.e., the early years of the financial crisis. We further document that US impairers write down a much greater percentage of their beginning balance of goodwill than European impairers. During the financial crisis, the median level of impairment by US firms was 63% of opening goodwill in 2008 and 40% in 2009, whereas median European write-downs were only 6% and 7% of goodwill, respectively. Even though European firms are more likely to impair over multiple years, the cumulative impairments never come close to the level of US firms, be it in a single year or cumulative over multiple years. We also find that the frequency of accounting impairment is small compared to the number of firms presenting evidence of economic impairment: only 20 to 25% of firms recognize impairments depending on the measure of economic impairment. This has often been interpreted by academics as a sign of untimely write-offs. Accounting differences between US GAAP and IFRS are unlikely to explain our results. One caveat of our analysis is that it does not allow us to draw conclusions on whether the observed differences between US and European firms are driven by differences in conditional conservatism and/or big bath accounting practices

Financial Distress Risk and New CEO Compensation


Management Science

février 2016, vol. 62, n°2, pp. 479 - 501

Départements : Comptabilité et Contrôle de Gestion, GREGHEC (CNRS)

Mots clés : CEO compensation, Compensation premium, CEO incentives, Financial distress risk

We examine how ex ante financial distress risk affects CEO compensation. To disentangle the joint effects of performance on compensation and distress risk, we focus our analyses on new CEOs. Our results indicate that financial distress risk affects compensation through two channels. First, new CEOs receive significantly more compensation when financial distress risk is higher. This finding is consistent with CEOs receiving a compensation premium for bearing this risk since CEOs experience large personal costs if their firms later become financially distressed. Second, financial distress risk is associated with the incentives provided to new CEOs; distress risk is positively associated with pay-performance sensitivity and equity-based compensation and is negatively associated with cash bonuses. Further, financial distress risk is positively associated with pay-risk sensitivity for new CEOs. These findings suggest that financial distress risk alters the nature of the agency relationship in ways that lead firms to provide CEOs with more equity-based incentives. We also build on research that finds a positive relation between forced turnover risk and CEO compensation. Our analyses suggest the compensation effects of forced turnover risk appear to be mainly attributable to financial distress risk. Overall, our results indicate financial distress risk is an economically important determinant of new CEO compensation packages