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This study examines the relationship between audit committees (ACs) and earnings management (EM) in the developing country context of Jordan. In particular, it investigates whether audit committee attributes, including their size, independence, expertise and meetings, are able to restrict discretionary accruals as a proxy for EM.Design/methodology/approachThe generalized least square (GLS) regression was used to study the association between audit committee attributes and discretionary accruals, as a proxy of EM, for a sample of industrial firms listed on the Amman Stock Exchange (ASE) during the period 2012–2020. Data were obtained from the firms' annual reports.FindingsThe regression results indicate that audit committee independence is the only audit committee attribute that seems to improve the effectiveness of ACs, in that it is significantly associated with less EM, while other audit committee attributes that were tested do not show statistically significant associations.Research limitations/implicationsIn emerging markets, like Jordan, ACs may not be an efficient monitoring mechanism; therefore, it can be argued that the prediction made by the agency theory about the role of ACs in mitigating opportunistic EM activities does not necessarily apply to all contexts.Practical implicationsA better understanding of audit committee effectiveness in developing countries could help regulators in these countries assess the impact of planned corporate governance (CG) reforms and to better monitor and enhance the performance of ACs.Social implicationsIn a setting characterized by closely held companies, high power distance and low demand for high-quality CG mechanisms, this study contributes to understanding how this business system operates, and how improving CG mechanisms could be successful in such cultures.Originality/valueThis study investigates the under-researched relationship between audit committee characteristics and EM in developing countries. In so doing, it aims to provide new insights into this relationship within the developing context case of Jordan, including if and how the institutional setting influences this relationship.
Journal of Accounting in Emerging Economies – Emerald Publishing
Published: Sep 22, 2022
Keywords: Audit committees; Accounting quality; Earnings management; Jordan
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