Earnings Management in Chapter 11 Bankruptcy

Timothy C.G. Fisher, Ilanit Madar-Gavious, Jocelyn Martel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


We study the impact of earnings management prior to bankruptcy filing on the passage of firms through Chapter 11. Using data on public US firms, we construct three measures of earnings management: a real activities manipulation measure (abnormal operating cash flows) and two accounting manipulation measures (discretionary accruals and abnormal working capital accruals). We find that, controlling for the impact of factors known to influence earnings management and firm survival in bankruptcy, earnings management prior to bankruptcy significantly reduces the likelihood of Chapter 11 plan confirmation and emergence from Chapter 11. The results are driven primarily by extreme values of earnings management, characterized by one or two standard deviations above or below the mean. The findings are consistent with creditors reacting positively to unduly conservative earnings reports and negatively to overly optimistic earnings reports. We also find that the presence of a Big 4 auditor is associated with a higher incidence of confirmation and switching to a Big 4 auditor before filing increases the incidence of emergence.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)273-305
Number of pages33
Issue number2
StatePublished - 1 Jun 2019
Externally publishedYes


  • Auditor choice
  • Bankruptcy
  • Chapter 11
  • Earnings management
  • Financial reorganization

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Accounting


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