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August 07, 2009

What Drives Managers to Pad Sales?

Catherine New
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From left to right: Prof. Yusheng Zheng, Wharton School and Cheung Kong Graduate School of Business, paper award winner Guoming Lai and Prof. Fangruo Chen.

Channel stuffing can lead to all kinds of distortions and ultimately hurts the long-term value of a company. So what are the incentives for a manager to engage in the practice? That was the winning topic for the Best Paper Award at this year’s Conference of the Overseas Chinese Scholars Association in Management Science and Engineering (OCSAMSE), which took place in Shanghai in July.

The conference was sponsored by Columbia Business School’s China Business Initiative, which is part of the Chazen Institute for International Business. OCSAMSE is the only organization representing overseas Chinese scholars in management science and engineering. The conference series was focused on integrating theory and practice and panelists discussed supplier relationship, supply chain and operations management.

Professor Fangruo Chen awarded the research prize to Guoming Lai and Lin Nan from David A. Tepper School of Business at Carnegie Mellon University and Laurens G. Debo from University of Chicago Booth School of Business for their paper “Manager Incentives for Channel Stuffing with Market-Based Compensation.”

The winning paper authors suggest that managers find real earnings management more attractive in the wake of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act. However, managers also now face more “real” constraints, such as bounds on physical inventory and often their interests are not aligned with long-term stakeholders. The results create three effects that drive the manager’s incentives for channel stuffing.

Other speakers at the conference included Dr. Weihua Ma of China Merchants Bank, Qinghou Zong of the Wahaha Group, Weimin Sun of Suning Appliance Co. Ltd., Steve Graves of M.I.T. and Mike Pinedo of New York University Stern School of Business.

Photo courtesy of Mei Xue