Ethics and creative accounting: Some empirical evidence on accounting for intangibles in Spain
Contributor(s)Universitat Pompeu Fabra. Departament d'Economia i Empresa
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AbstractRecent research shows that financial reports are losing relevance. Mainly thisis due to the growing strategic importance of intangible assets in theperformance of a company. A possible solution is to modify accounting standardsso that statements include more self-generated intangible assets, taking intoaccount with their inherent risk and difficulty of valuation. We surveyed loanofficers who were asked to assess the credit-worthiness of a hypotheticalcompany. The only information given was a simplified version of financialstatements. Half the group got statements where research and development costshad been capitalized. The other half got statements in which these costs hadbeen treated as an expense. The findings show that capitalization wassignificantly more likely to attract a positive response to a loan request. Thepaper raises the question of whether accounting for intangibles might providemanagers with one more creative accounting technique and, in consequence, itsethical implications.