Three Coles DBA Students Examine Key Corporate Governance Issues

Dana Hermanson
Dana Hermanson

KENNESAW, GA (Nov 8, 2017) — Carol Bishop, Therese Viscelli, and Rob Wilbanks graduated from the Coles DBA program and recently published their corporate governance-related DBA dissertation research. Dana Hermanson (Dinos Eminent Scholar Chair of Private Enterprise and Professor of Accountancy) chaired each of the students’ dissertation committees, and Vineeta Sharma (Associate Professor of Accountancy) served on Wilbanks’ committee. DBA Global Scholars Todd DeZoort (University of Alabama) and Mark Beasley (North Carolina State University) served on Bishop’s and Viscelli’s committees, respectively.

A brief summary of each study follows.

Bishop, C. C., F. T. DeZoort, and D. R. Hermanson. 2017. The Effect of CEO Social Influence Pressure and CFO Accounting Experience on CFO Financial Reporting Decisions. Auditing: A Journal of Practice & Theory 36 (1): 21-41. 

The first study, based on Carol Bishop’s dissertation, examines the effect of CEO social influence pressure (i.e., pressure to alter a financial figure in order to meet a profit target) on CFOs’ financial reporting decisions. Based on a written case experiment administered to public company CFOs, the study reveals that the CEO can have the same impact on the CFO’s behavior by ordering the CFO to change a number or by asking the CFO to change a number. However, CFOs “feel” less pressure when they are asked to change a number, suggesting that asking CFOs to change a number may be an especially dangerous form of pressure. Notably, CFOs with greater accounting experience were less likely to revise a number to meet a target. Boards and audit committees should be alert for inappropriate CEO pressure on the CFO.

Viscelli, T., D. R. Hermanson, and M. S. Beasley. 2017. The Integration of ERM and Strategy: Implications for Corporate Governance. Accounting Horizons 31 (2): 69-82. 

The second study, based on Therese Viscelli’s dissertation, examines the integration of Enterprise Risk Management (ERM) and corporate strategic planning efforts, which is intended to maximum the organizational benefits of adopting ERM. Based on interviews of ERM leaders in 14 organizations, the study reveals that efforts to integrate ERM and strategy often fall short of their intended goals. The authors identify a number of barriers to such integration, including those related to organizational culture and ERM launch, the ERM leadership team, and the handling of key risks. The authors develop several implications for directors and executives seeking to integrate ERM and strategic planning. This paper was a finalist for the 2015 BlackRock/National Association of Corporate Directors Global Challenge for Innovation in Corporate Governance.

Wilbanks, R., D. R. Hermanson, and V. Sharma. 2017. Audit Committee Oversight of Fraud Risk: The Role of Social Ties, Professional Ties, and Governance Characteristics. Accounting Horizons 31 (3): 21-38. 

The final study, based on Rob Wilbanks’ dissertation, explores audit committee members’ efforts to oversee fraudulent financial reporting risk and top management integrity. Based on a survey administered to public company audit committee members, the study reveals that when the responding audit committee member has a personal tie to the CEO, the overall audit committee is less vigilant in assessing fraud risk and management integrity. Further, the audit committee tends to cut back on more observable monitoring efforts in the presence of such a social tie to the CEO, suggesting a concern with maintaining a good relationship with the CEO. The study also found evidence that audit committee members may seek to delegate their responsibility for assessing fraud risk to others, highlighting the need to clearly define expectations of directors and their role in providing fraud risk oversight.