We investigate the role of analyst following as a monitoring device reducing earnings management. We find strong evidence that analysts are more effective monitors in transparent environments than in opaque environments. In a sample of 51,401 observations for 10,866 non-financial firms in 26 countries from 1994 to 2002, we find that the more transparent the country, the stronger the reduction in earnings management activity associated with analyst following. We also find that firms in transparent countries use short-term earnings management techniques to reach the consensus analyst forecast. Taken together, our findings suggest that while analyst following acts as a curb on the most visible forms of earnings management in transparent countries, it also encourages more subtle, short-term forms of earnings management to reach the analyst consensus. In transparent countries monitoring effectiveness more than offsets consensus fixation. In opaque countries, analyst following does not act as a curb on total earnings management, but neither does it create any short-term pressure to manage earnings. Our results are robust to (1) our measure of transparency, (2) reverse causality checks and (3) our choice of measure of earnings management.
analyst following; earnings management; international comparison
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