Jenny Li Zhang

Associate Professor

Research Interests

Finance and Accounting
Financial reporting, corporate disclosure, restatements, pension

Relevant Degree Programs

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Research Methodology

Empirical

Recruitment

Doctoral students

Financial reporting, corporate disclosure, restatements, disclosure of foreign firms listed in the U.S.

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Graduate Student Supervision

Doctoral Student Supervision (Jan 2008 - Nov 2020)
Essays on disclosure (2020)

This thesis explores the impacts of blockchain technology on accounting practice in two separate chapters. Blockchain is a system of distributed ledgers that can record information in a verifiable and permanent way. As the underlying technology of Bitcoin, Blockchain has received increased attention since 2008.Chapter 2 takes an empirical approach to examine how startup firms use blockchain to finance their projects in the market for Initial Coin Offerings (ICOs). The blockchain technology allows entrepreneurs to commit to disclosing their transactions with investors before the transactions take place. Such decisions are coded into computer programs, known as ‘smart contracts,’ which become immutable once deployed on blockchains. I manually collected and analyzed the ‘smart contract’ code of 2085 ICO projects. I find that ICOs that make more disclosure commitments with blockchains are more likely to succeed, as measured by the likelihood of reaching fundraising goals and delivering preliminary products. I also find that transaction volumes disclosed on blockchains predict ICO outcomes and that investors punish ICOs with suspicious volumes, e.g., volumes that show signs of automated trading. These findings indicate that blockchains can function as a self-commitment device, and firms in the ICO market use blockchain to signal project quality.Chapter 3 takes an analytical approach to study how blockchain differs from traditional commitment mechanisms, e.g., regulations, and how firms can benefit from the additional features. When firms make commitments through disclosure regulations, they are choosing a regulation ‘combo,’ a set of predetermined disclosure requirements that apply to many firms. However, when firms make commitments on blockchains, they can customize a set of disclosure requirements that best suit them. I develop a model to study firms’ endogenous commitment decisions. A manager can commit to disclosing a value relevant signal before it is realized, or he can defer the disclosure decision until after he observes the signal. My analyses demonstrate that the commitment decision can credibly convey information that otherwise could not be disclosed, suggesting that blockchain enhances firms’ ability to communicate private information to the market.

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