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Recent research in accounting has examined the link between political connections and accounting quality. Researchers in this area have posited that political connections may increase accounting quality because connected firms are subject to greater media scrutiny, which could provide for stronger monitoring of earnings manipulation. Connected firms may also have readier access to subsidized financing or government contracts, which may blunt incentives to manage earnings for capital market and contracting purposes. On the other hand, politically connected firms may be shielded from the consequences of poor accounting quality or the revelation of earnings management. Moreover, connected firms may manage their earnings to avoid detection of payments to political insiders to maintain their connected status.
Preliminary evidence from this body of research suggests that politically connected firms tend to have lower financial reporting quality. However, there is reason to expect that a country’s political, legal, and media institutions—which affect firms’ financial reporting environment more generally (Leuz et al. 2003)—may moderate the relationship between political connections and accounting quality. For example, lack of transparency may limit media outlets’ role in scrutinizing political cronyism. Strong investor protection laws, accompanied by prosecutorial and judicial independence, may impact a connected firm’s ability to escape the consequences of accounting manipulation.
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