Published Journal Articles
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Papers are listed in reverse chronological order. Below each paper I provide a summary of the main findings of the paper, and also the topical area of the research. I study managerial communication of firm performance in general, with much of my research falling into the following three topical areas: (1) factors that shape voluntary earnings conference call communications and the effects of those communications, (2) the influence of personal traits and social forces on managerial communication, and (3) the determinants and consequences of managerial communication through mandatory financial reports.  A video summarizing these papers and describing my research agenda is below.

Accounting Review.jpg Mayew, William J., Mani Sethuraman and Mohan Venkatachalam. 2020. “Individual Analysts’ Stock Recommendations, Earnings Forecasts, and the Informativeness of Conference Call Question and Answer SessionsThe Accounting Review, In Press.

Note: The popular press commonly highlights that analysts issue favorable stock recommendations and achievable earnings targets in order to curry favor with management.  Such favor gives them access to private information about the firm.  From an investor standpoint, these analysts have conflicts of interest with management, and we know the capital market in general can detect when conflicts of interest exist and discount signals accordingly.  But what happens when the signal the market receives is a real time conference call dialogue between managers and these “favored” analysts?  Does the capital market view conference call discussions with these favored analysts as not containing information because they know of the conflict, or are the favored analysts actually the ones who drive the most informative dialogues since they know management and the firm better than other analysts due to their ongoing private information access?   These are the questions we explore in this paper by using intra-day stock prices responses for each unique dialogue between managers and analysts on conference calls.

Topical Area: Earnings Conference Call Communication

Dikolli, Shane S., John Heater, William J. Mayew and Mani Sethuraman. 2020. “CFO Co-Option and CEO CompensationManagement Science, In Press.

Note: We study whether relative power in the CEO-CFO relationship influences CEO compensation. To operationalize relative power of a CEO over a CFO, we define CFO co-option as the appointment of a CFO after a CEO assumes office. We find that CFO co-option is associated with a CEO pay premium of about 10%, which is concentrated more in the early years of the co-opted CFO’s tenure and in components of compensation that vary with the achievement of analyst-based earnings targets. Our evidence also indicates that a primary channel through which CEO power over a co-opted CFO yields the achievement of earnings targets is the use of earnings management to inflate earnings. Co-opted CFOs rely primarily on using discretionary accruals to manage earnings prior to the Sarbanes-Oxley regulatory intervention and switch to real activities manipulation afterwards. The evidence thus suggests that the form of earnings management depends on costs imposed on the CFO to inflate earnings.

Topical Area: Personal traits (in this case relative power in the CEO-CFO relationship)

Accounting Review.jpg Dikolli, Shane S., Thomas Keusch, William J. Mayew and Thomas D. Steffen. 2019. “CEO Behavioral Integrity, Auditor Responses, and Firm OutcomesThe Accounting Review, In Press.

Note: This study uses computational linguistics to investigate CEO integrity. We specifically focus on the audit fee response to CEO behavioral integrity (BI). BI refers to the perceived congruence between an individual’s words and deeds (Simons 2002). Because low word-deed congruence should result in more explanations when communicating, we use variation in explanations beyond firm fundamentals and CEO-specific characteristics in more than 30,000 shareholder letters to serve as a linguistic-based proxy for CEO BI. We find audit fees increase as BI decreases, but BI is not associated with financial misstatement or litigation. These findings are potentially consistent with auditors undertaking additional work in response to low BI, which in turn mitigates the risk of restatements and lawsuits. The likelihood of option backdating increases as BI decreases, consistent with the contention that auditors lacked incentives to prevent backdating. Finally, BI is increasing in future performance, which suggests CEOs partially underpin the returns to high-integrity corporate cultures. (Note: this paper was the winner of the 2012-2013 McLaughlin Prize for Research in Accounting Ethics given annually by the University of Oklahoma)

Topical Area: Personal traits (in this case integrity)

PLOSone Dougal, C., Paul Gao, William J. Mayew and Christopher A. Parsons. 2019. “What’s in a (School) Name? Racial Discrimination in Higher Education Bond MarketsJournal of Financial Economics, 134(3): 570-590.

Note: This study shows that Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) pay more in underwriting fees when raising capital in the bond market due to race discrimination. This video explains the findings:

This paper underpinned proposed legislation (HR 5530 and HR 6048) to improve the ability of HBCUs to raise capital, as noted by the Congressional Black Caucus letter to the Trump Administration.  The findings were referenced in a 2018 funding petition from the American Indian Higher Education Consortium as well as a 2018 GAO report on the HBCU Capital Financing Program.  The findings were also presented to HBCU Presidents and Chancellors at the 2019 TMCF Annual Fly-In.

Topical Area: Personal traits (in this case race)

JAR Hobson, Jessen, William J. Mayew, Mark Peecher and Mohan Venkatachalam. 2017. “Improving Experienced Auditors’ Detection of Deception in CEO NarrativesJournal of Accounting Research, 55(5): 1137-1166.

Note:  This study shows that experienced auditors’ deception judgments from earnings conference call narratives are less accurate for fraud companies than for non-fraud companies, unless they receive an instruction noting that cognitive dissonance markers in voice are diagnostic for identifying deception.  We also find that instructed experienced auditors more extensively describe red flags for fraud companies and more accurately identify specific sentences in narratives that pertain to underlying frauds.  Inexperienced auditing students cannot detect deception in conference calls at better than chance levels, whether they receive the instruction or not.  This paper was the winner of the 2016-2017 McLaughlin Prize for Research in Accounting Ethics given annually by the University of Oklahoma and received the best research paper award in 2019 from the Forensic Accounting Section of the AAA.  In terms of impact on the accounting profession, this paper was highlighted in Insight Magazine of the Illinois Society of CPAs, consulting firms mention it for guiding auditors, and research building on this paper was recently funded by the Foundation for Auditing Research.  This paper was also a top 20 most read paper at Journal of Accounting Research in 2017-2018.

Topical Area: Earnings Conference Call Communication

CAR Dyreng, Scott, William J. Mayew and Katherine Schipper. 2017. “Evidence of Manager Intervention to Avoid Working Capital DeficitsContemporary Accounting Research, 34(2): 697-725 (Lead article).

Note: This study shows that distributions of reported current ratios exhibit a discontinuity at 1.0. Current ratios represent important balance sheet liquidity indicators to lenders and creditors, and have an identifiable and naturally occurring reference point at 1.0, analogous to the profit/loss income statement reference point. Determinants of the likelihood to achieve a given current ratio are diagnostic precisely at the 1.0 discontinuity location but not at other nearby locations in the current ratio distribution. The evidence suggests that managers intervene to achieve a balance sheet reporting objective that stems from stakeholder use of reference points.

Topical Area: Communication through Mandatory Reports

jlsp_cover Burgoon, Judee, William J. Mayew, Justin S. Giboney et al. 2016. “Which Spoken Language Markers Identify Deception in High-Stakes Settings? Evidence From Earnings Conference CallsJournal of Language and Social Psychology, 35(2): 123-157.

Note: This is cross disciplinary work as part of the NSF funded Center for Identification Technology Research (CITeR) via the University of Arizona site that focuses on credibility assessment. This paper examines financial misreporting by studying over 1,000 individual executive utterances over a series of one firm’s conference calls. A comprehensive set of vocalic and linguistic features were examined in both the presentation and Q&A portions of the calls. Restatement-related utterances were systematically different than other utterances on various linguistic and vocalic dimensions. This paper is one of the first to examine conference calls at the utterance level.

Topical Area: Earnings Conference Call Communication

DSS Throckmorton, Chandra S., William J. Mayew, Mohan Venkatachalam and Leslie M. Collins. 2015. “Financial Fraud Detection Using Vocal, Linguistic and Financial CuesDecision Support Systems, 74: 78-87.

Note: This is cross disciplinary work with colleagues in Duke University’s Pratt School of Engineering. This paper shows that combining information from a conference call, including managerial vocal cues, linguistic cues and financial cues – rather than considering each individually in isolation – can increase the ability to detect financial fraud in the cross section of firms. However, such improvement is only obtained when feature selection is used to purge uninformative cues.

Topical Area: Earnings Conference Call Communication

Accounting Review.jpg Mayew, William J., Mani Sethuraman and Mohan Venkatachalam. 2015. “MD&A Disclosure and the Firm’s Ability to Continue as a Going ConcernThe Accounting Review, 90 (4): 1621-1651.

Note: This paper shows that existing textual Management Discussion and Analysis (MD&A) disclosures in 10-K filings assist in the prediction of whether the firm will cease as a going concern. Information in MD&A disclosures is incremental to both financial statement numbers and the auditor’s going concern opinion, and MD&A disclosures have predictive ability at horizons up to three years. These findings are important given recent reform considerations by the FASB, PCAOB and SEC to increase management disclosures regarding the ability to continue as a going concern.

Additional Information:  This paper was part of the American Accounting Association’s comment letter to the FASB and was part of a synthesis requested by the Foundation for Auditing Research.

Topical Area: Communication through Mandatory Reports

PLOSone Anderson, Rindy C., Casey A. Klofstad, William J. Mayew and Mohan Venkatachalam. 2014. “Vocal Fry May Undermine the Success of Young Women in the Labor MarketPLoS ONE 9(5): e97506.

Note: This is cross disciplinary work with colleagues in Duke University’s Department of Biology. This paper experimentally examines the perceptions of vocal fry, which occurs when voice pitch is excessively lowered, in a labor market context. Relative to a normal speaking voice, young adult females exhibiting vocal fry are perceived as less competent, less educated, less trustworthy, less attractive and less hireable. These negative perceptions are stronger for female voices as compared to male voices.

Additional Information: Watch a summary of the literature and perceptions of vocal fry as mentioned in the popular press, prior to our study, here. Recent research by Fuqua colleagues also shows that the creaky voice from vocal fry, when exhibited by females, is negatively perceived in an advertising context.  A video discussing this research is provided below.

 

Topical Area: Personal traits (in this case vocal fry)

RAST Dikolli, Shane S., William J. Mayew and Dhananjay Nanda. 2013. “CEO Tenure and the Performance-Turnover RelationReview of Accounting Studies, 19 (1): 281-327.

Note: This paper shows that as CEO tenure increases, less weight is placed on performance measures for making turnover decisions and boards monitor managers less. The results in this paper suggest that periodic performance reports increasingly resolve uncertainty regarding executive ability.  This paper was the winner of the 2018 Notable Contribution to Management Accounting Literature Award.

Topical Area: Personal traits (in this case tenure)

bioletters Mayew, William J. 2013. “Reassessing the Association Between Facial Structure and Baseball Performance:  a comment on Tsujimura and Banissy (2013)Biology Letters, 9 (5): 20130538.

Note: This paper reconsiders the predictive ability of the facial width-to-height ratio (fWHR) for baseball player performance after considering body mass index (BMI). Associations between player performance and fWHR are insignificant after controlling for BMI, suggesting that for outcomes that rely on physical strength, BMI is an important consideration.  See Geniole et al. 2015 for a recent meta analysis on fWHR.

Topical Area: Personal traits (in this case BMI and fWHR)

EHB Mayew, William J., Christopher A. Parsons and Mohan Venkatachalam. 2013. “Voice Pitch and the Labor Market Success of Male Chief Executive OfficersEvolution & Human Behavior, 34 (4): 243-248 (Lead article).

Note: This paper examines whether deeper voiced male CEOs achieve better labor market outcomes in terms of the size of the firm they oversee, their compensation and how long they are retained. The results suggest deep voices are rewarded, consistent with recent experimental predictions forwarding a role for voice pitch in leadership selection. Results also imply that economically meaningful effects of voice pitch reach the upper echelons of corporate management.

Additional Information:  A summary of our research, along with other colleagues at Duke that study voice perceptions, is available here. This study can be viewed as providing external validity for the many experiments that document voice pitch perceptions. Recent evidence in Banai et al. 2016 and Klofstad 2015 shows similar effects by documenting deep voice males are more likely to win political elections.  A video discussing this research is provided below.

Topical Area: Personal traits (in this case voice pitch)

NOWTrends Mayew, William J. and Mohan Venkatachalam. 2012. “Speech Analysis in Financial MarketsFoundations and Trends in Accounting, 7 (2): 73-130.

Note: This paper summarizes research in accounting and finance that examines speech, with a particular focus on voice analysis.   A review by Minnis (2015) of this article is here and a video discussing this article is provided below.

Topical Area: Earnings Conference Call Communication and Personal Traits

JF Mayew, William J., and Mohan Venkatachalam. 2012. “The Power of Voice: Managerial Affective States and Future Firm PerformanceJournal of Finance, 67 (1): 1-43 (Lead article).

Note: This paper documents an association between vocal emotion markers during conference calls and contemporaneous stock price responses, which suggest that CEO voices contain information about firm prospects. This paper was awarded best paper at the 2008 Financial Research Association Conference. The internet appendix provides a brief summary on the conceptual underpinnings of extracting emotion from voice. For an even more updated literature review on the automatic recognition of emotion from speech, see Shuller et al. 2011Prattle Equities Analytics is an example of a  company that is parsing and coding conference call speech for investing insights.

Topical Area: Earnings Conference Call Communication

JAR Hobson, Jessen, William J. Mayew, and Mohan Venkatachalam. 2012. “Analyzing Speech to Detect Financial MisreportingJournal of Accounting Research, 50 (2): 349-392.

Note: This paper shows that aspects of voice are incrementally predictive over financial accounting numbers for predicting misreporting. Relatedly, this popular press article discusses the emerging market for ex-CIA agents to observe conference calls for vocal, facial and linguistic cues that may be indicative of bad news.  This paper was referenced as part of a 2015 UK Parliament POSTnote on Forensic Language Analysis.  Additionally, this article was part of a fraud literature synthesis undertaken for the PCAOB by the audit section of the American Accounting Association.

Topical Area: Earnings Conference Call Communication

RAST Mayew, William J., Nathan Y. Sharp, and Mohan Venkatachalam. 2013. “Using Earnings Conference Calls to Identify Analysts with Superior Private InformationReview of Accounting Studies, 18 (2): 386-413.

Note: This paper shows that analysts who are allowed to participate and engage with management during earnings conference calls issue more accurate and more timely earnings forecasts immediately following the call.

Topical Area: Earnings Conference Call Communication

CAR Mayew, William J. 2012. “Disclosure Outlets and Corporate Financial Communication: A Discussion of ‘Managers’ Use of Language Across Alternative Disclosure Outlets: Earnings Press Releases Versus MD&A‘” Contemporary Accounting Research, 29 (3): 838-844.

Note: This paper discusses the potential disclosure outlets managers currently have available to them to communicate with stakeholders, and identifies potential research opportunities pertaining to how managers choose among the various disclosure outlets as part of a disclosure strategy.

Topical Area: Communication through Mandatory Reports

JBFA Dyreng, Scott, William J. Mayew and Chris Williams. 2012. “Religious Social Norms and Corporate Financial ReportingJournal of Business Finance and Accounting, 39 (7-8): 845-875.

Note: This paper shows that firms headquartered in areas where the local population is religious have better quality financial reports, engage in less tax sheltering and are more forthcoming with bad news.  This paper received a 2015 Citations of Excellence Award from Emerald Publishing.

Topical Area: Social Forces on Managerial Communication

CAR Jennings, Ross, Connie D. Weaver, and William J. Mayew. 2012. “The Extent of Implicit Taxes at the Corporate Level and the Effect of TRA86Contemporary Accounting Research, 29 (4): 1021-1059.

Note: This paper shows that explicit tax benefits were not retained by firms (i.e. they were implicitly taxed) prior to the enactment of the Tax Reform Act of 1986 (TRA86). After TRA86, firms were able to retain a large fraction of explicit tax benefits, perhaps due to sheltering activity.

Topical Area: Other (tax)

RAST Ertimur, Yonca, William J. Mayew, and Stephen R. Stubben. 2011. “Analyst Reputation and the Issuance of Disaggregated Earnings Forecasts to I/B/E/SReview of Accounting Studies 16 (1): 29-58.

Note: This paper shows that analysts who disaggregate their earnings forecasts appear to do so in order to build their reputations as high quality analysts.

Topical Area: Other (financial analysts)

RAST Frankel, Richard M., William J. Mayew, and Yan Sun. 2010. “Do Pennies Matter? Investor Relations Consequences of Small Negative Earnings SurprisesReview of Accounting Studies 15 (1): 220-242.

Note: This paper shows that there are asymmetric penalties (in an investor relations sense) to missing analyst earnings estimates by small amounts. Evidence from this paper is referenced in the popular book Scorecasting.

Topical Area: Earnings Conference Call Communication

JAR Mayew, William J. 2008. “Evidence of Management Discrimination Among Analysts During Earnings Conference CallsJournal of Accounting Research 46 (3): 627-659.

Note: This paper shows that managers are more likely to speak in public during an earnings conference call with analysts who have more favorable stock recommendations. This sort of “freezing out” of unfavorable analysts happened at Enron and analysts appear to be concerned about this issue. Google at one point attempted to develop software to bring transparency to the conference call question queue to eliminate managers playing favorites.

Topical Area: Earnings Conference Call Communication

CAR Hodder, Leslie, William J. Mayew, Mary Lea McAnally, and Connie D. Weaver. 2006. “Employee Stock Option Fair-Value Estimates: Do Managerial Discretion and Incentives Explain Accuracy?Contemporary Accounting Research 23 (4): 933-975.

Topical Area: Communication through Mandatory Reports

JBFA Gramlich, Jeffrey D., William J. Mayew, and Mary Lea McAnally. 2006. “Debt Reclassification and Capital Market ConsequencesJournal of Business, Finance and Accounting 33 (7-8): 1189-1212.

Topical Area: Communication through Mandatory Reports

Published Cases

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IMA_Logo Earney, Charles L., William J. Mayew, Howard O. Rockness and Joanne W. Rockness. 2001. “Figure Eight Island: Case Study,” Institute of Management Accountants Case Studies: Cases from Management Accounting Practice, Vol. 16-1.
AICPA Earney, Charles L., William J. Mayew and Joanne W. Rockness. 1999. “Plantation Village, Inc. A & BAICPA Casebook, Case No. 99-05.