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Overlapping Membership on Audit and Compensation Committees and Financial Reporting Quality


Australian Accounting Review

Published online on


This paper examines whether the audit committee members of a board improve financial reporting quality if they are also on their organisation's compensation committee. Audit committees are responsible for overseeing the financial reporting process of organisations and have been urged to broaden their understanding of business risk and of the incentives provided by their firms’ executive compensation structures. Acknowledging the interrelationships among executive compensation, risk‐taking and financial reporting quality, members of audit and compensation committees have been advocating more information sharing between the two committees. Using archival data from a sample of Australian Stock Exchange listed companies, and discretionary accruals as a proxy for financial reporting quality, this study finds that firms with overlapping committees have better quality financial reporting than those without such an overlap. Our evidence for this is stronger in cases where managers tend to manage earnings upwards in order to meet or beat earnings benchmarks. We also find that the beneficial effect of the existence of overlapping committees is adversely affected by the equity holdings of directors with overlapping memberships.