CEO Life History Strategies and Earnings Management

Melanie L. Feldhues, Morten Holm*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaperResearchpeer-review


We draw on Life History (LH) theory and provide empirical evidence that biological factors shaped by evolution influence the propensity of CEOs to engage in earnings management activities in private firms. Various resource allocation trade-offs shape organisms’ development of different LH strategies on a fast-slow continuum. Fast individuals tend to follow aggressive reproduction strategies. Consequently, they exert more impulsive, opportunistic, and risk-tolerant behavior to achieve their goals. We develop and validate the LH index reflecting CEO LH strategies based on biodemographic data on individuals’ reproduction behavior (number of biological children, number of partners, reproductive timespan, and relationship duration). We find that in situations where earnings management activities can be beneficial, fast CEOs engage in more earnings management activities than slow CEOs.
Original languageEnglish
Publication date2021
Number of pages64
Publication statusPublished - 2021
Event2021 Financial Accounting and Reporting Section Virtual Midyear Meeting -
Duration: 21 Jan 202123 Jan 2021

Annual Meeting

Annual Meeting2021 Financial Accounting and Reporting Section Virtual Midyear Meeting

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