Board Independence and Earnings Management: Evidence from Italy

  •  Stella Lippolis    
  •  Francesco Grimaldi    


This research aims to analyze the relationship between the characteristics of the Board of Directors (BoD) and the effectiveness of the monitoring of earnings manipulation activities in family – controlled companies in Italy. In particular, specific hypotheses relating to the link between those aspects of the Board, that substantiate its independence, and earnings quality have been formulated to verify whether the mechanisms for monitoring management activity are less effective in these companies.

This study applies a univariate and multivariate methods on a sample of Italian listed company over the period 2014-2016.  Earnings management is defined by the proxy of abnormal working capital accrual (AWCA) estimed model according to DeFond and Park (2001). Proxies for corporate governance mechanism are the board size, the level of board independence, the CEO non-duality and the interaction between the last two variables.

The research shows that independent directors are not, as in other contexts, a factor that contributes to earnings quality, in the same way that the separation of the offices of Chairman of the Board of Directors and Chief executive Officer (CEO) does not appear to be relevant to this end.

The study aims to provide a double contribution. First, the research represents one of the few studies concerning the Italian context with its peculiarities, taking into consideration the earnings management issue in companies with a high concentration of family ownership.

Secondly, this study aims to further stimulate the debate on the most effective features of structure and composition of the BoD in family-controlled companies: specifically, the conclusions could lead to a reconsideration of the validity of certain characters of the boards that defines independence.

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.