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The ethics of creative accounting some Spanish evidence

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Creative accounting involves accountants in making accounting policy choices or manipulating transactions in such a way as to convey a preferred and deliberately chosen impression in the accounts. Although it is regarded as unethical by most observers, a defense of creative accounting can be based on the assumption that users of accounts can identify bias in accounting policy choices and make appropriate adjustments. In this paper we take the example of the Barcelona Football Club where the club management made three key accounting policy choices that resulted in the presentation of a favourable position, and a supporters club presented an alternative report choosing three alternative accounting policies that presented an unfavourable position. We presented each of these financial reports to one of two groups of Spanish bank loan officers: we found that the more favourable set of accounts was significantly more likely to attract a positive response to a loan request. This result undermines the validity of defending creative accounting based on the argument that accounts users can identify manipulation.

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: 1: Lecturer in Finance and Accounting at the University of Central Lancashire, 2: Associate Professor at Pompeu Fabra University in Barcelona, 3: Pompeu Fabra University in Barcelona

Publication date: July 1, 2000


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