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An Analysis of SEC Clawback Provisions in terms of Loss-Aversion and Narcissism

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Executive compensation is broken into two parts: one fixed and one variable. The fixed component of executive compensation is the annual salary and the variable components are performance-based incentives. Clawback provisions of executive compensation are designed to require executives to

Executive compensation is broken into two parts: one fixed and one variable. The fixed component of executive compensation is the annual salary and the variable components are performance-based incentives. Clawback provisions of executive compensation are designed to require executives to return performance-based, variable compensation that was erroneously awarded in the year of a misstatement. This research shows the need for the use of a new clawback provision that combines aspects of the two currently in regulation. In our current federal regulation, there are two clawback provisions in play: Section 304 of Sarbanes-Oxley and section 954 of The Dodd\u2014Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act. This paper argues for the use of an optimal clawback provision that combines aspects of both the current SOX provision and the Dodd-Frank provision, by integrating the principles of loss aversion and narcissism. These two factors are important to consider when designing a clawback provision, as it is generally accepted that average individuals are loss averse and executives are becoming increasingly narcissistic. Therefore, when attempting to mitigate the risk of a leader keeping erroneously awarded executive compensation, the decision making factors of narcissism and loss aversion must be taken into account. Additionally, this paper predicts how compensation structures will shift post-implementation. Through a survey analyzing the level of both loss- aversion and narcissism in respondents, the research question justifies the principle that people are loss averse and that a subset of the population show narcissistic tendencies. Both loss aversion and narcissism drove the results to suggest there are benefits to both clawback provisions and that a new provision that combines elements of both is most beneficial in mitigating the risk of executives receiving erroneously awarded compensation. I concluded the most optimal clawback provision is mandatory for all public companies (Dodd-Frank), targets all executives (Dodd-Frank), and requires the recuperation of the entire bonus, not just that which was in excess of what should have been received (SOX).

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2018-12

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The Unintended Consequences of Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002

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Given its impact on the accounting profession and public corporations, Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002(SOX) is a widely researched regulation among accounting scholars. Research typically focuses on the impact it has had on corporations, executives and auditors, however, there is limited

Given its impact on the accounting profession and public corporations, Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002(SOX) is a widely researched regulation among accounting scholars. Research typically focuses on the impact it has had on corporations, executives and auditors, however, there is limited research that illustrates the impact SOX may have on average Americans. There were several US criminal code sections that resulted from the passing of SOX. Statute 1519, which is often referred to as the "anti-shredding provision", penalizes anyone who "knowingly alters, destroys, mutilates, conceals, covers up, falsifies, or makes a false entry in any record, document, or tangible object with the intent to" obstruct a current or foreseeable federal investigation. This statute, although intended to punish behavior similar to that which occurred in the early 2000s by corporations and auditors, has been used to charge people beyond its original intent. Several issues with the crafting of the statute cause its broad application and some litigation even reached the Supreme Court due to its vague wording. Not only is the statute being applied beyond the intent, there are other issues that legal scholars have critiqued it for. This statute is far from being the only law facing these issues as the same issues and critiques are found in the 14th amendment. Rewriting the statute seems to be the most effective way to address the concerns of judges, lawyers and defendants regarding the statute. In addition, Congress could have passed this statute outside of SOX to avoid being seen as overreaching if obstruction of justice related to documents was actually an issue outside of corporate fraud.

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2016-12

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The Influence of Motivation on Evidence Assimilation in a Controlled Judgement Task

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Prior research suggests that people ignore evidence that is inconsistent with what they want to believe. However, this research on motivated reasoning has focused on how people reason about familiar topics and in situations where the evidence presented interacts with

Prior research suggests that people ignore evidence that is inconsistent with what they want to believe. However, this research on motivated reasoning has focused on how people reason about familiar topics and in situations where the evidence presented interacts with strongly-held prior beliefs (e.g., the effectiveness of the death penalty as a crime deterrent). This makes it difficult to objectively assess how biased people are in motivated-reasoning contexts. Indeed, recent work by Jern and colleagues (2014) suggests that apparent instances of motivated reasoning may actually be instances of rational belief-updating. Inspired by this new account, the current studies reexamined motivated reasoning using a controlled categorization task and tested whether people assimilate evidence differently when they are motivated to maintain a certain belief versus when they are not. Contrary to earlier research on motivated reasoning, six studies with children and adults (N = 1295) suggest that participants’ motivations did not affect their information search and their beliefs were driven primarily by the evidence, even when the evidence was incongruent with their motivations. This work provides initial evidence for the account proposed by Jern and colleagues.

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2019

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Anchoring and motivated reasoning in managers' review of accounting estimates

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Accounting estimates are developed in a bottom-up fashion; subordinates generate estimates that are reviewed by managers. The anchoring heuristic suggests managers may be highly influenced by subordinates’ initial estimates. However, motivated reasoning theory predicts that reporting incentives will bias managers’

Accounting estimates are developed in a bottom-up fashion; subordinates generate estimates that are reviewed by managers. The anchoring heuristic suggests managers may be highly influenced by subordinates’ initial estimates. However, motivated reasoning theory predicts that reporting incentives will bias managers’ review in favor of estimates that are incentive consistent, and managers will selectively attend to information that supports their preferred conclusion, including their perceptions of the subordinate. Using experimental methods I manipulate the consistency of the subordinate estimate with management reporting incentives, and the narcissistic description of the subordinate. Consistent with motivated reasoning theory, I find that managers anchor on incentive consistent subordinate estimates, regardless of subordinate narcissism, but anchor less on incentive inconsistent subordinate estimates, especially when the estimate comes from a narcissistic subordinate. I also find evidence that managers believe narcissistic subordinates act strategically in their own self-interest, and selectively attend to this belief to adjust away from incentive inconsistent subordinate estimates, but not incentive consistent subordinate estimate. My results reveal two potential weaknesses in the management review process: susceptibility to subordinate anchors, and bias created by reporting incentives.

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2016