The Impact of Audit Committee Characteristics on Earnings Management: A Canadian Case Study

Lynda Ioualalen, Hanen Khemakhem, Richard Fontaine


The objective of this study was to analyze the impact of three Audit Committee (AC) characteristics, financial expertise, diversity and activism on aggressive earnings management. We hypothesized that these AC characteristics are negatively related to aggressive earnings management. To test or hypothesis, we conducted an empirical test with a sample of 10 Canadian corporations listed on the Toronto stock exchange: 5 companies that were accused of aggressive earnings management and 5 other corporations used as a control group. We analyzed the 5-year period prior to the accusation (1999-2003). We measured earnings management by the level of discretionary accruals (using the modified Jones model (1995). Our results show that activism and the financial expertise of AC members are negatively related to aggressive earnings management; however, we did not find a significant relationship between diversity and aggressive earnings management. These results contribute to help governance oversight organizations identify AC characteristics that have the most influence on the detection of aggressive earnings management, which could help agencies develop and enforce methods to detect and reduce aggressive earnings management practices.

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