Date of Original Version




Rights Management

The definitive version is available at

Abstract or Description

In this paper, we investigate how the accounting measurement basis affects the capital market pricing of a firm's shares, which, in turn, affects the efficiency of the firm's investment decisions. We distinguish two broad bases for accounting measurements: input-based and output-based accounting. We argue that the structural difference in the two measurement bases leads to a systematic difference in the efficiency of the investment decisions. In particular, we show that an output-based measure has a natural advantage in aligning investment incentives because of its comprehensiveness. The (first-)best investment is achieved when the output-based measure is noiseless and manipulation free. In addition, under an output-based measure, more accounting noise/manipulation always leads to more inefficient investment choices. Therefore, if an output-based accounting measure is highly noisy and easy to manipulate in practice, the induced investment efficiency can be quite low. On the other hand, an input-based accounting measure, while not as comprehensive, may induce more efficient investment decisions than an output-based measure if some noise is unavoidable in either measure. The reason is twofold. First, input-based measures may be associated with less noise and limited manipulation in practice. Second, and more importantly, we show that under an input-based measure, a slight increase in accounting noise/manipulation may lead to more efficient investment choices. In fact, the (first-)best result is achieved when the noise/manipulability is small but positive. In other words, for an input-based measure, being less comprehensive makes small but positive accounting noise/manipulability desirable. Two extensions of the basic model are also explored.





Published In

Journal of Accounting Research, 45, 1, 155-197.