Lansing should not be permitted to continue this practice for several reasons. First, it distorts the quarterly earnings for both the division and the company. The distortions of the division’s quarterly earnings are troubling because the manipulations may mask real signs of trouble. The distortions of the company’s quarterly earnings are troubling because they may mislead external users of the financial statements. Second, Lansing should not be rewarded for manipulating earnings. This sets a moral tone in the company that is likely to lead to even deeper trouble. Indeed, the permissive attitude of top management toward the manipulation of earnings may indicate the existence of other, even more serious, ethical problems in the company. Third, a clear message should be sent to division managers like Lansing that their job is to manage their operations, not their earnings. If they keep on top of operations and manage well, the earnings should take care of themselves.
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