The credibility consequences of managers' disclosure decisions

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Date

2001-08

Authors

Mercer, Maureen Ann

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Abstract

The purpose of this dissertation is two-fold. I first provide a model of the determinants of disclosure credibility. In my model, the four primary determinants of a disclosure’s credibility are situational incentives at the time of the disclosure, reactions of others, management’s credibility (i.e., management’s competence and trustworthiness), and characteristics of the disclosure itself. Developing a model of disclosure credibility is important, as anecdotal evidence indicates that managers are concerned about the credibility of their disclosures. Managers’ concerns are warranted; the academic literature suggests that firms who are able to credibly communicate information have a lower cost-of-capital. Given the importance of disclosure credibility to managers and the significant role that management credibility plays in disclosure credibility, the second part of my dissertation explores factors influencing management vii credibility. Specifically, I provide a theoretical framework and experimental evidence on how managers’ disclosure decisions affect their credibility with investors. Further, I examine whether investors’ judgements of management’s credibility are based on different factors in the short- and longer-term. My experimental results show that in the short-term, management disclosure decisions regarding negative news have larger effects on perceived management credibility than disclosure decisions regarding positive news. The results also show that these short-term credibility effects do not persist over time. That is, in the longer-term, perceived management credibility is primarily a function of the valence of the news disclosed. Managers of firms who report positive earnings news are rated as having higher credibility than managers of firms who report negative earnings news, regardless of their disclosure decisions. Implications of these results are discussed.

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