Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Business Administration

Major Professor

Bruce Behn

Committee Members

Vladimir Protopopescu, Phillip Daves, Terry Neal


Accounting standards mandate different, more conservative, rules for the recognition of unrealized gains than unrealized losses in reported earnings. Conditional conservatism, defined as asymmetric timeliness in the recognition of unrealized losses vs. gains in reported earnings has, since its origins, been a peculiar characteristic of the accounting system. Understanding conservatism’s role, its determinants, and its variations across firms is important for interpreting the nature, purposes, and valuation implications of accounting. Basu (1995; 1997) proposed a model to detect accounting conditional conservatism and provided empirical evidence that bad news is recognized more quickly than good news in earnings for a sample over the period 1963-1991. Following his seminal work1, accounting literature adopted the Basu single-period model to measure conditional conservatism (Ball et al. 2000; Ball et al. 2005; Ball and Shivakumar 2005; Lobo and Zhou 2006).

However, Basu’s proxy for measuring the arrival of good/bad news, the price of the firm’s stock, may be influenced, in part, by factors that will never be recorded in a firm’s reported earnings. This introduces inaccuracy in the measure of conditional conservatism. To address the problems, I introduce a new measure of conditional conservatism, which results from a Least Absolute Deviation (LAD) piecewise regression and adopts the number of changes in financial analysts’ EPS forecasts as a proxy for good/bad news. Then, I use this new measure to test the determinants, suggested by previous literature, of conditional conservatism in accounting. Results show that companies with (1) lower debt-to-assets ratio, (2) large proportion of executives’ annual compensation independent of the firm’s accounting performance, (3) one of the big 4/big 7 audit firms as auditor, and a auditor opinion qualified with a going concern assumption the previous year exhibit a greater timeliness in the recognition of bad news than good news in annual earnings.

1As of December 7, 2006, 102 citations for Basu (1997) are recorded on Thomson ISI’s Social Sciences Citation Index ( and 291 are on Google Scholar (

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