Fraud, restaurants, sarbanes oxley act, internal controls, fraud triangle
The central focus of this dissertation study is to understand the impact of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act and the factors that contribute to increased risk of fraud in order to determine why fraud may occur despite the imposed regulation of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act. The main premise of the study tests the application of the fraud triangle framework constructs to publicly traded restaurant companies during the time period of 2002-2014, using proxy variables defined through literature. Essentially, the study seeks to identify the factors that may provide the optimal criteria to engage in fraudulent or opportunistic behavior. The fraud triangle theoretical framework is comprised of the constructs of pressure, opportunity and rationalization, and has mostly been utilized by external auditors to assess the fraud risk of various companies. It has never been applied to the restaurant industry, and the proxy variables selected have never before been tested in a comprehensive model. Thus, a major contribution of this study may enable executive managers to assess the fraud triangle conditions according to the model in order to afford conclusions regarding increased risk of fraud. The study first hypothesized that the Sarbanes-Oxley Act has had a significant impact on detecting increased risk of fraud for publicly traded restaurant companies. Additionally, the study controlled for and tested the proxy variables of the fraud triangle constructs to determine if any of the variables had a significant impact on detecting increased risk of fraud for publicly traded restaurant companies. The variables tested included company size, debt, employee turnover, organizational structure, international sales growth, executive stock compensation, return on assets, the Recession, and macro-economic factors of interest, inflation, and unemployment rates. The research study adopted an exploratory research design using the case of publicly traded United States restaurant companies in order to provide a better understanding of the characteristics that may contribute to increased fraud risk. The study assumed a binary distribution of the dependent variable, increased fraud risk, measured by the incidence of a reported internal control deficiency over the testable time period. Specifically, the study employed a probit model to estimate the probability that an entity or company will be at an increased risk of fraud based on the independent variables that support and are linked to the fraud triangle framework. Additionally, the model assumes equal weight to the variables of the fraud triangle framework. Through use of the probit model, the major findings of the study were as follows: First, the Sarbanes-Oxley Act does have a significant impact on highlighting areas of increased fraud risk for publicly traded restaurant companies. Second, for the total population of restaurant companies, only the Recession, interest rates, inflation rates and unemployment rates are significant indicators of increased fraud risk. None of the internal variables were significant. However, once the data was segmented by type of restaurant, the results revealed significance of both internal and external variables. These results imply a couple of theoretical notions: first, that the Sarbanes-Oxley Act is an effective means for detecting risk of fraud for publicly traded restaurant companies when considering variables that support the fraud triangle; second, that the fraud triangle is contextual when applied to the restaurant industry because only the variables that are outside of managements control were significant. Finally, from a managerial perspective, the study provides evidence that macro-economic conditions that might affect consumer demand may increase the risk of fraud for publicly traded restaurant companies.
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Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)
College of Education and Human Performance
Education; Hospitality Education
Length of Campus-only Access
Doctoral Dissertation (Open Access)
Rosen College of Hospitality Management
Yost, Elizabeth, "Conditions Associated with Increased Risk of Fraud: A Model for Publicly Traded Restaurant Companies" (2015). Electronic Theses and Dissertations. 1196.