In this study we investigate whether the importance of accounting information in contracting and communication with shareholders and creditors affects earnings timeliness in publicly disclosed general-purpose financial statements. To operationalize the relationship between timeliness demands and the importance of accounting information to shareholders and creditors, we compare the (asymmetry in) earnings timeliness of public firms with that of private firms. We attribute public versus private firm differences in timeliness to shareholders’ demands when a country’s institutions provide strong investor protection. Similarly, we attribute these differences to creditors’ demands when the institutions provide strong creditor protection. Our analysis of public and private firms in 13 Western European countries suggests that creditors and shareholders have different timeliness demands. In particular, we find that the public versus private firm difference in asymmetric timeliness is not associated with a country’s degree of investor protection but positively associated with a country’s degree of creditor protection. The results further suggest that shareholders demand symmetric rather than asymmetric timeliness. An important implication of our study is that general-purpose financial statements are responsive to creditors’ reporting demands, which contrasts with the idea that these — primarily private — creditors would use special-purpose reports.
|Journal||Contemporary Accounting Research|
|Publication status||Published - 2010|