Date of Award

Spring 1-1-2011

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department

Accounting & Business Law

First Advisor

Bjorn N. Jorgensen

Second Advisor

Steve Rock

Third Advisor

Hui Chen

Abstract

This dissertation consists of two essays.

Chapter 1

I exploit a regulatory change that mandated Over-the-Counter Bulletin Board (OTCBB) firms to comply with the reporting requirements of the 1934 Securities Exchange Act to examine: 1) firm characteristics associated with voluntary disclosure of financial statement information, and 2) the valuation role of financial statement information in voluntary and mandatory reporting disclosure environments. Prior to this regulatory change, disclosure of financial statement information was voluntary for most OTCBB firms. I study firms that initiate filing with the SEC after this regulatory change, and classify these firms as disclosing and non-disclosing firms based on whether they voluntarily disclosed financial statement information to the public (but did not file with the SEC) prior to the regulatory change. In these firms’ initial SEC filings I am able to observe ex post the prior year financial statement information even for non-disclosing firms that had previously withheld this information. I find that the choice to voluntary disclose financial statements is associated with firm characteristics related to lower proprietary costs, lower agency costs, and more useful accounting information in valuation. In association-based tests, I find evidence consistent with firms voluntarily disclosing financial statement information when the information is useful for valuation and otherwise not disclosing. My evidence also suggests that non-disclosed accounting information is reflected in stock prices in real time.

Chapter 2 (co-authored with Bjorn N. Jorgensen and Jeffrey C. Merrell):

This essay provides evidence on the link between legal origin and earnings attributes often associated with earnings quality. Prior studies perform country-level analyses and find evidence that earnings quality is higher in counties with common law (English legal origin) than in countries with civil law (which includes French legal origin). This paper takes a different approach and exploits within-country variation in Canada. Specifically our research is motivated by the observation that all Canadian providences have common law with the exception of Quebec which has civil law. We investigate whether common earnings attributes typically associated with earnings quality vary at the firm-level. We find that earnings attributes do vary with legal origin. Further, we analyze Canadian firms’ decision regarding where to incorporate at either the Federal or province level. Our evidence suggests that Quebec firms’ incorporation decision at either the Federal (common law) or province (civil law) leads to some differences in earnings quality, after controlling for differences in accounting standards hypothesized by Ball, Kothari and Robin (2000).

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