Defense Date


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy



First Advisor

Dr. Edward N. Coffman


Corporations have the choice of expensing (using the fair value method), or non-expensing (using the intrinsic value method and provide pro forma disclosure in financial statement footnotes) of employee stock options. The current study examines how corporate governance factors affect such choices. Prior studies (Xie et al. 2003; Klein 2002; Peasnell et al. 2000) have indicated that certain corporate governance factors have an impact on corporate accounting behavior, including earnings management. Based on the assumption that expensing employee stock options is a good practice of accounting that improves earnings quality, it is hypothesized that these corporate governance factors would affect companies' option expensing decisions, in ways similar to how they affect companies' other earnings management choices.A series of hypotheses relating to specific corporate governance factors are developed. These corporate governance factors include: Board independence (percentage of independent directors on the board, CEO/board chairman split, and tenure of independent directors), board expertise (governance expertise and financial expertise), board diligence, board ownership, board size, CEO tenure, and internal blockholders (cumulative ownership percentage of internal blockholders, and whether the largest blockholder is the CEO). A sample of firms that elected to expense employee stock options up to early September 2003 is identified from the report of Bear, Stearns & Co., Inc. (2003), and a control sample of non-expensing firms is selected based on certain matching principles. The final sample consists of 235 expensing firms and 235 matched control firms, 470 firms in total.A logit regression is conducted. The dependent variable is companies' decisions on whether or not to expense employee stock options. The independent variables are corporate governance factors and control variables. Regression results indicate that the following corporate governance factors have statistically significant impact on option expensing decisions in the directions predicted: finance expertise, board diligence, and whether the CEO is the largest blockholder. Regression results indicate a statistically significant impact on option expensing decisions, which is in the opposite direction than predicted, for the cumulative ownership percentage of internal blockholders. The impacts of all other corporate governance factors are statistically insignificant.


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Is Part Of

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Date of Submission

June 2008

Included in

Accounting Commons