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Positive accounting is the branch of academic accounting research that seeks to explain and predict actual accounting practices. This contrasts with normative accounting, that seeks to derive and prescribe "optimal" accounting standards.
Positive accounting emerged with empirical studies that proliferated in accounting in the late 1960s. It was organized as an academic school of thought of discipline by the work of Ross Watts and Jerold Zimmerman (in 1978 and 1986) at the William E. Simon School of Business Administration at the University of Rochester, and by the founding of the Journal of Accounting and Economics in 1979. When published, the pioneering articles were greeted with considerable criticism.
Positive accounting can be associated with the contractual view of the firm.The firm is viewed as “a nexus of contracts” and accounting one tool to facilitate the formation and performance of contracts. Under this view, accounting practices evolve to mitigate contracting costs by establishing ex ante agreement among varying parties. For example, positive accounting postulates that conservatism in accounting –in this sense defined conditionally as requiring lower (higher) standards of verifiability to recognize losses (gains)– has origins in contract markets, including managerial compensation contracts and lender debt contracts. As an example, absent conservatism, managerial compensation agreements may reward managers based on current reports that later evidence indicates were unwarranted.
The contractual view of positive accounting puts it in tension with value relevance studies in accounting: the latter contend that accounting’s primary role is to value the firm, and thus practices like conservatism are sub-optimal.The value relevance school emphasizes the usefulness of accounting information to equity investors in contrast to its usefulness in contracting exercises.
The efficiency perspective is taken into Positive Accounting theory as researchers explain how various managers choose accounting methods that show a true representation of the firm's performance. Within this perspective,it is stated by numerous authors that accounting practices adopted by firms are often explained on the basis showing the true image of financial performance of the firm.
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The opportunistic perspective holds the view that managers, who are agents to the principal, act to their self-interests. They only adopt accounting policies that allow them to gain, in the view that the firm also gains. Different types of hypothesis exist such as political cost, bonus plan and debt hypothesis that show what motives make the managers choose one accounting method over another.
The management compensation hypothesis states that managers who have accounting incentives, or their remuneration that is tied up with the firm's accounting performance will tend to manipulate accounting method and figures to show the accounting performance better than it should be.Such as managers electing to use different depreciation method allowing lower profits at the start and higher profits towards the end. Older managers will tend to ignore any research and development costs because it will lower current year profits affecting their income.
The debt/equity hypothesis states that managers will tend to show better profits (similar to the bonus plan/management compensation hypothesis) with the intention of having a better performance and liquidity position to pay the interest and principal of the debt they have accumulated in the business.The higher the debt/equity level the more likely it is that the managers will tend to use accounting methods and procedures in increasing accounting profit.
The political cost hypothesis assumes that firms will tend to show their profits lower by using different accounting methods and procedures so that the firm does not attract the attention of politicians, who will have an eye on high profit industries. Allowing lower profits steers away any attention by the public and the eyes of the governmentwho will place higher regulation on high earning firms.
In corporate finance, mergers and acquisitions (M&A) are transactions in which the ownership of companies, other business organizations, or their operating units are transferred or consolidated with other entities. As an aspect of strategic management, M&A can allow enterprises to grow or downsize, and change the nature of their business or competitive position.
Corporate governance is the collection of mechanisms, processes and relations used by various parties to control and to operate a corporation. Governance structures and principles identify the distribution of rights and responsibilities among different participants in the corporation and include the rules and procedures for making decisions in corporate affairs. Corporate governance is necessary because of the possibility of conflicts of interests between stakeholders, primarily between shareholders and upper management or among shareholders.
An incentive is something that motivates or drives one to do something or behave in a certain way. There are two types of incentives that affect human decision making. These are: intrinsic and extrinsic incentives. Intrinsic incentives are those that motivate a person to do something out of their own self interest or desires, without any outside pressure or promised reward. However, extrinsic incentives are motivated by rewards such as an increase in pay for achieving a certain result; or avoiding punishments such as disciplinary action or criticism as a result of not doing something.
Managerial economics is a branch of economics involving the application of economic methods in the managerial decision-making process. Managerial economics aims to provide a frame work for decision making which are directed to maximise the profits and outcomes of a company. Managerial economics focuses on increasing the efficiency of organisations by employing all possible business resources to increase output while decreasing unproductive activities. The two main purposes of managerial economics are:
Employee stock options (ESO) is a label that refers to compensation contracts between an employer and an employee that carries some characteristics of financial options.
In economics and accounting, the cost of capital is the cost of a company's funds, or, from an investor's point of view "the required rate of return on a portfolio company's existing securities". It is used to evaluate new projects of a company. It is the minimum return that investors expect for providing capital to the company, thus setting a benchmark that a new project has to meet.
The principal–agent problem, in political science, supply chain management and economics occurs when one person or entity, is able to make decisions and/or take actions on behalf of, or that impact, another person or entity: the "principal". This dilemma exists in circumstances where agents are motivated to act in their own best interests, which are contrary to those of their principals, and is an example of moral hazard. Issues also arise when companies have an incentive to become increasingly deferential to management that have ownership stakes. As shareholders are dis-incentived to intervene, there are fewer checks on management. Issues can also arise among different types of management.
Capital structure in corporate finance is the way a corporation finances its assets through some combination of equity, debt, or hybrid securities. It refers to the make up of a firm's capitalisation. It is the mix of different sources of long term funds such as equity shares, preference shares, long term debt, and retained earnings.
The theory of the firm consists of a number of economic theories that explain and predict the nature of the firm, company, or corporation, including its existence, behaviour, structure, and relationship to the market.
The return on equity (ROE) is a measure of the profitability of a business in relation to the equity. Because shareholder's equity can be calculated by taking all assets and subtracting all liabilities, ROE can also be thought of as a return on assets minus liabilities. ROE measures how many dollars of profit are generated for each dollar of shareholder's equity. ROE is a metric of how well the company utilizes its equity to generate profits.
An agency cost is an economic concept that refers to the costs associated with the relationship between a "principal", and an "agent". The agent is given powers to make decisions on behalf of the principle. However, the two parties may have different incentives and the agent generally has more information. The principal cannot directly ensure that its agent is always acting in its best interests. This potential divergence in interests is what gives rise to agency costs.
In management, business value is an informal term that includes all forms of value that determine the health and well-being of the firm in the long run. Business value expands concept of value of the firm beyond economic value to include other forms of value such as employee value, customer value, supplier value, channel partner value, alliance partner value, managerial value, and societal value. Many of these forms of value are not directly measured in monetary terms.
Capital budgeting, and investment appraisal, is the planning process used to determine whether an organization's long term investments such as new machinery, replacement of machinery, new plants, new products, and research development projects are worth the funding of cash through the firm's capitalization structure. It is the process of allocating resources for major capital, or investment, expenditures. One of the primary goals of capital budgeting investments is to increase the value of the firm to the shareholders.
In financial economics and accounting, the earnings response coefficient, or ERC, is the estimated relationship between equity returns and the unexpected portion of companies' earnings announcements.
Business economics is a field in applied economics which uses economic theory and quantitative methods to analyze business enterprises and the factors contributing to the diversity of organizational structures and the relationships of firms with labour, capital and product markets. A professional focus of the journal Business Economics has been expressed as providing "practical information for people who apply economics in their jobs."
Management is a type of labor with a special role of coordinating the activities of inputs and carrying out the contracts agreed among inputs, all of which can be characterized as "decision making". Managers usually face disciplinary forces by making themselves irreplaceable in a way that the company would lose without them. A manager has an incentive to invest the firm's resources in assets whose value is higher under him than under the best alternative manager, even when such investments are not value-maximizing.
Raffi Indjejikian is the Robert L. Dixon Collegiate Professor of Accounting at the Stephen M. Ross School of Business at the University of Michigan. His research is primarily focused on the development of models and theories illustrating the role of managerial accounting in decision-making through the basis of agency theory.
Oliver E. Williamson hypothesised (1964) that profit maximization would not be the objective of the managers of a joint stock organisation. This theory, like other managerial theories of the firm, assumes that utility maximisation is a manager’s sole objective. However it is only in a corporate form of business organisation that a self-interest seeking manager maximise his/her own utility, since there exists a separation of ownership and control. The managers can use their ‘discretion’ to frame and execute policies which would maximise their own utilities rather than maximising the shareholders’ utilities. This is essentially the principal–agent problem. This could however threaten their job security, if a minimum level of profit is not attained by the firm to distribute among the shareholders.
Corporate finance is the area of finance that deals with sources of funding, the capital structure of corporations, the actions that managers take to increase the value of the firm to the shareholders, and the tools and analysis used to allocate financial resources. The primary goal of corporate finance is to maximize or increase shareholder value.
Surrogation is a psychological phenomenon found in business practices whereby a measure of a construct of interest evolves to replace that construct. Research on performance measurement in management accounting identifies surrogation with "the tendency for managers to lose sight of the strategic construct(s) the measures are intended to represent, and subsequently act as though the measures are the constructs". An everyday example of surrogation is a manager tasked with increasing customer satisfaction who begins to believe that the customer satisfaction survey score actually is customer satisfaction.