As management increasingly manages earnings through real activities manipulation (RAM), RAM detection has become an important issue. This study investigates the role of reporting frequency and presentation format in detecting sales-related RAM. Based on the results of an online experiment with 77 experienced financial analysts, we find that more frequent financial reporting significantly improves sales-related RAM detection when financial analysts are aided with graphical displays. The results of our study suggest that more frequent financial reporting has the potential to improve RAM detection by disclosing trends that are suggestive of RAM. Moreover, results indicate that graphical representation reduces the cognitive effort required to process a larger number of data points generated by more frequent reporting and thus provides a better cognitive fit than tabular representation. As a result, the combination of more frequent reporting and graphical support together may assist financial statement users in detecting certain types of RAM.

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