The Certification Effect of New Legislation: CEO Accountability for Misconduct After Sarbanes-Oxley

Pozner, J, Mohliver, A and Moore, C (2023) The Certification Effect of New Legislation: CEO Accountability for Misconduct After Sarbanes-Oxley. In: Organizational Wrongdoing as the “Foundational” Grand Challenge: Consequences and Impact. Research in the Sociology of Organizations (85). Emerald Publishing Limited, pp. 11-33. ISBN 9781837532834


We investigate how firms’ responses to misconduct change when the institutional environment becomes more stringent. Organizational theory offers conflicting perspectives on whether new legislation will increase or decrease pressure on firms to take remedial action following misconduct. The dominant perspective posits that new legislation increases expectations of firm behavior, amplifying pressure on them to take remedial action after misconduct. A more recent perspective, however, suggests that the mere necessity to meet more stringent regulatory requirements certifies firms as legitimate to relevant audiences. This certification effect buffers firms, reducing the pressure for them to take remedial action after misconduct. Using a temporary, largely arbitrary exemption from a key provision of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act, we show that firms that were not required to meet all the regulatory standards of good governance it required became 45% more likely to replace their CEOs following the announcement of an earnings restatement after Sarbanes-Oxley. On the other hand, those that were required to meet all of Sarbanes-Oxley’s provisions became 26% less likely to replace their CEOs following a restatement announcement. Ironically, CEOs at firms with a legislative mandate intended to increase accountability for corporate misconduct shoulder less blame than do CEOs at firms without such legislative demands.

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Item Type: Book Section
Subject Areas: Strategy and Entrepreneurship
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© 2023 Emerald Publishing Limited

Date Deposited: 02 Aug 2023 16:45
Date of first compliant deposit: 02 Aug 2023
Subjects: Disclosure of financial information
Organisational behaviour
Legal practices and procedures
Last Modified: 03 Aug 2023 13:50

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