The spillover effect of shareholder activism : Evidence on firm reporting

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Original languageEnglish
Article number106980
Journal / PublicationJournal of Accounting and Public Policy
Issue number5
Online published9 Apr 2022
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2022


This study examines the spillover effect of shareholder activism against target firms on financial reporting by non-target firms in portfolios held by the same activist shareholders. We find that firms that are not the target of institutional shareholders’ activism campaigns report more positive abnormal accruals. Cross-sectional tests indicate that the effect is more pronounced i) for firms that have more opportunities to engage in upward earnings management, or for firms with less effective alternative monitoring forces, and ii) when investors are more sensitive to good news. We also find that the effect is stronger when activist shareholders are more experienced, are waging more confrontational campaigns against target firms, and have larger holdings in non-target firms. We further find that non-target firms tend to report lower magnitude of asset write-downs, are more likely to restate financial statements and meet or beat earnings benchmarks, and exhibit a more optimistic tone in their 10-K/10-Q filings. Overall, our findings suggest that firms tend to window-dress their mandatory reporting to preempt possible shareholder activism against them.

Research Area(s)

  • Shareholder activism, Earnings management, Spillover effect