Accounting conservatism in complex companies

ABSTRACT This study seeks to investigate the influence of the complexity of companies on levels of accounting conservatism. The subject of analysis, accounting conservatism in complex companies, can be considered relevant because it analyzes conservative practices taking into account the organizational context of companies; something that is ignored in other studies that investigate the incentives or determinants of accounting conservatism, at least as far as firm complexity is concerned. The research presents statistical evidence that accounting conservatism varies positively with the information asymmetry caused by specific characteristics of complex environments. On the other hand, when companies present several complex characteristics together, then the trend is one of little adoption of conservatism. In addition, this research brings together evidence that aims to contribute to accounting science by analyzing complex companies and conservatism and not the opportunistic practices observed in previous studies. The sample refers to 110 publicly traded companies from 2010 to 2016. The data collection was carried out using company reports, such as reference forms, registration data, and explanatory notes, as well as the Economatica® database. The data analysis was performed using multiple linear regression and quantile regression. The evidence obtained in the research indicates that accounting conservatism varies according to the information asymmetry caused by complex environments, in which it can present a positive relationship in companies with few characteristics of complexity, or a negative relationship if the company has complexity in several characteristics at the same time. It throws light on the different levels of conservatism observed in companies, which can often be attributed to mechanisms of governance, organizational culture, and accounting standards, among other factors, which are results that may be biased if the company complexity factor is not considered.