Corporate governance and profit manipulation: a French field study

C. LAMBERT, S. Sponem

Critical Perspectives on Accounting

October 2005, vol. 16, n°6, pp.717-748

Departments: Accounting & Management Control

Profit manipulation has been largely studied through Positive Accounting Theory (PAT). However, the weakness of the results obtained would suggest using different theoretical and methodological approaches to examine this subject. In France, management controllers play a central role in profit manipulation. This paper offers a comprehensive analysis of their profit manipulation practices. Using results from 32 interviews in 13 companies, we argue that the spread of Anglo-Saxon corporate governance model has fostered such behaviour. Far from the opportunism hypothesis supported by Positive Accounting Theory, profit manipulation is used as a tool by management controllers to gain broader legitimacy within organisations and/or to adopt what they claim to be ethical behaviour