Book entries are vehicles used in accounting to accommodate non-cash transactions, timing differences and provisions. The use of book entries is a normal activity in accounting and may have their origin in accrual accounting. The management of a company may apply creative accounting techniques in the form of earnings management, in particular, adopting the practices of income smoothing and taking the so-called ‘big bath’. These practices may result in the financial manager or accountant misusing book entries. This could then lead to information of a different integrity to that which would have resulted had these creative accounting practices not been performed in the company. The question addressed in this dissertation and for which an answer is sought, is whether there is any notable difference in the integrity issues of information supplied through the accounting process and created by real transactions (real events) as opposed to information created by book entries (artificial events). The hypothesis underlying this dissertation is: The integrity of information created by book entries is based on subjective opinions because it is based on future events therefore it is not the same as integrity of information created by real transactions that is based on historical events. The new science is concerned with new guidelines, amongst other things, regarding reality, observation, objectivity, predictions and relationships among events. These new guidelines could be seen as explaining certain aspects which is relevant to the field of accounting. The attributes of a book entry are not based on reality, but are based on subjective predictions of future transactions etc. Another similarity is that a book entry is often not objective but is based on subjective observation. Notable differences were observed in the integrity of the information emerging from a real, historical event and a future event. These differences were established through the application of two research methods, namely, the use of a questionnaire and the analysis of the financial statements of 30 companies listed on The JSE Securities Exchange South Africa (JSE). The influence of book entries on certain ratios was considered, and the ratios influenced by two major book entries, namely, depreciation provision and deferred taxation, differ substantially in interpretation when the two book entries are reclassified. The results of the questionnaire also indicate that a large proportion of the financial managers in practice believe that book entries substantially influence the integrity of information.
Dissertation (MCom Financial Management Sciences)--University of Pretoria, 2005.