Manipulating reported earnings is a temptation faced by accountants and financial professionals around the world. Manipulating, or “managing,” one’s accounting earnings takes a variety of forms and includes not only the avoidance of prescribed accounting rules but also the practice of selectively choosing accounting estimates or timing operating decisions to move reported earnings toward a desired goal. Prior research reveals wide disagreement regarding the perceived ethical acceptability of this practice. This study investigates whether national origin influences perceptions of earnings management. Participants from the United States and Mexico evaluated thirteen vignettes describing various earnings management practices (Merchant and Rockness 1994). Analyses of the responses indicate considerable variation between students from these two countries, indicating culture does significantly impact how individuals perceive opportunities to manage reported financial information.

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Copyright © 2007 Universidad Nacional Autonoma de Mexico. This article first appeared in Contaduria y Administracion 223 (September 2007): 53-68.

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