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Abstract

We provide a comprehensive overview of the findings regarding the causes of financial restatements in the US. Acknowledging that restatements may derive from intentional and unintentional misreporting, we assign the findings to one of three pillars: i) expected benefits, ii) expected costs, and iii) executive characteristics. Assuming that managers are rational decision-makers, the likelihood of misreporting increases in expected benefits and decreases in expected costs. While expected benefits reflect executives desire to maximize private benefits through compensation contracts, expected costs refer to the likelihood that misreporting will be revealed through internal or external controls. Given that the efficiency of internal and external controls derives from the ability to avoid both intentional and unintentional misreporting, we also review literature that investigates less severe restatements. We support the existing research by enhancing the understanding of restatements in light of severe and less severe restatements, identifying research gaps and organizing fragmented findings into a larger picture. Ultimately, our survey might inform regulatory bodies, auditors, standard setters and executives regarding restatements of financial statements.