Earnings management by top Chinese listed firms in response to the global financial crisis

Guanglu Xu*, Xudong Ji

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

25 Citations (Scopus)


Purpose - The main aim of this study was to examine the earnings management behaviours, including both accrual-based and cash flow-based earnings management, of Chinese firms during the Global Financial Crisis (GFC). Design/methodology/approach - A data set of 1,392 firm-year observations derived from a large sample of China's top listed firms (based on total assets) was constructed and investigated via univariate and ordinary least squares regression analyses. Findings - Two distinct conclusions can be drawn from the results of the study. First, the top Chinese listed firms did engage in earnings management, as indicated by comparisons of the means of the absolute values of both accrual-based and cash flow-based earnings management indicators in the periods before and after 2008 when the GFC started. Second, investigation of earnings management directions revealed that in response to the GFC, the firms from construction-related industries and the airline industry manipulated earnings upwards through either accrual-based and/or cash flow-based earnings management activities. On the other hand, firms in the household durables industry engaged in earnings-reducing activities. These findings reflect the effect of the stimulus package launched by the Chinese Government in an effort to combat the GFC. In addition, the results indicate that firm characteristics such as size, leverage, profitability and growth affected the earnings management behaviours of the firms analysed in the study. Originality/value - The empirically derived findings of this study contribute to the literature pertaining to the effects of the GFC on earnings management practices in China, which has remained relatively scant to date.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)226-251
Number of pages26
JournalInternational Journal of Accounting and Information Management
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1 Aug 2016
Externally publishedYes


  • Cash flow-based earnings management
  • Chinese firms
  • Discretionary accruals
  • Earnings management
  • Global financial crisis


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