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To study the relationship between internal control and company performance on Ghanaian listed company, the researcher has studied and reviewed theories and concepts from several types of resources among them are academic papers, books and research papers that are related to the topic.
2. 1 Theoretical Framework
The study also support most earlier research that the complexity and dramatic expansion in the business activities in recent time could not allow owners to efficiently and effectively manage the whole affairs of their businesses alone hence there is the need to employ a second party (agent) to assist in the operational process of the business activities. The agent in this case now owe the owners (principal) a duty to report on all the contractual activities that he has undertaken on behave of his principal on a regular basis. This contractual relation between the two parties is what is known to be an agency relationship. According to Jensen and Meckling (1976), agency relationship is a contract under which one or more principals engage another person known as agent to perform some task on their behalf, which entails delegating some decision-making authority to the agent. Agency theory hence labeled the owners' as the principal and the managers as the agents. It is worth noting that agent in their attempt to keep up in business therefore may be channeling all their efforts towards expansion and growth, owners might only be interested in maximizing their returns hence causing conflicts between the two parties. Barlie and Means (1932) stated that in order to harmonize the interests of the principal and the agent and as well strengthened their relationship the principal must employ an expert to monitor the agent. This work was supported by Coarse (1937) who states that the contract between the agent and the principal serves as conflict resolution as the principal determines the volume and the nature of the work and the agent only execute the work to the later. He concluded his work by proposing that the principal suffers shirking which deprive them from benefiting from the work delegated to the agent.
The study now unpinned itself to the theory of contingency to help establish the relationship between the control factors and the company's performance. Contingency theory is a theory in an organizational research that established conceptual terms in an organizational literature (Donaldson, 2001; Sauser, Reilly & Shenhar, 2009). This theory has been a subject of wider research area in the past decades but yet has not been fully developed.(Ayman, Chemers & Fiedler, 1995). According to (Chenhall, 2003; Drazin & Van de Ven, 1985; Reid & Smith, 2000) the early researchers on contingency theory in organization design mainly focuses on the effects of uncertainty on the organizational structure. However, contingency theory is known as one of those theory that are usually been used recently in management accounting and auditing research (Abushaiba & Zainuddin, 2012; Reid & Smith, 2000; Sudsomboon & Ussahawanitchakit, 2009; Valanciene & Gimzauskiene, 2009) though the utilization of the theory may have different effect, and equally it effectiveness depend upon the stage/or field that is been proposed (Chenhall, 2003; Drazin & Van de Ven, 1985)
Additionally, the relevant of any given factor should be contingent upon other factors (Krishnamoorthy, 2002) but then contingency theory enables a researcher to systematically introduce factors to explain or predict expected phenomena (Umanath, 2003). This is because it does depend on one's interpretation of the theory, and such theory has the capability of producing accurate hypotheses and consistent functions (Schoonhoven, 1981). Therefore, indicate the possibility of applying contingency framework in the public sectors (Wood, 2009). Mean while a contingency theory also differs with other theories in the form of their specific propositions, this is because it's hypothesize a conditional relationship between two or more independent variables with a dependent variable and subject it to an empirical test (Drazin & Van de Ven, 1985).
The study therefore proposes that company's performance of listed firms in Ghana stock exchange is contingent upon those components of internal controls.
2.2 Internal Control Effectiveness
Gupta (2001) provided that internal control system refers to as "organizational plans, methods and all the procedures that is adopted by the management of an entity to assist in achieving management objectives so as to ensure as far as practicable, the systematic and efficient conduct of its business operations, which includes adherence to management policies, safeguarding of assets, prevention and detection of fraud and error, accuracy and completeness of financial records and timely preparation of reliable financial statement Verschoor (1999) also describe internal control system as general term that is use to explain how management gives assurance of its firm meeting its financial obligations as and when it fall due. Similarly, internal control also serves as a process that guides an organization towards achieving its established objectives (Amudo & Inanga, 2009; Baltaci & Yilmaz, 2006; Jokipii 2010).
From the above definitions of internal control system, it can clearly be understood that, internal control is all about making provision that will assist an organization to achieve its set objectives. Therefore, for the purpose of this study effective internal control are simply effective control measures established by an organization with the aim of safeguarding their assets ensure the reliability of records both financial and non-financial as well as compliance with relevant policies and procedure that will ensure the achievement of organizational objective hence improve its performance. In this regards, the players of the Ghana stock exchange market must ensure that its listed firms have their internal control well established so as to help internal audit towards objective achievement of organizational goals. Similarly, quality of an organization internal control system has significant impact on the accuracy of management guidance, likewise firms that disclose ineffective internal controls system have larger tendency of experiencing management errors in their operation than those firms that report effective internal controls system (Feng, Li & McVay, 2009). Therefore, it is the responsibility of management of an organization to ensure that effective internal control system is put in place that will ensure the achievement of organizational established objectives. This is because establishment and supervision of effective internal control systems are the responsibility of management, not auditors (Changchit et al, 2001). At the same time effective internal controls system are fundamental drivers toward earnings quality (Church & Schneider, 2008). In the same vein, effective internal control system has an essential role to play in a firm's success (Jokipii, 2010); in line with the above issue, effective internal control system could also play an important role in company's performance of listed companies in Ghana stock exchange market.
In addition, effective internal control system can provide information to management about the entity's progress, or lack of progress toward the achievement of their objectives (Changchit et al, 2001; Jokipii, 2010; Nilniyom & Chanthinok, 2011; Vijayakumar & Nagaraja, 2012; Verdina, 2011). Again Vijayakumar and Nagaraja studies in (2012) show great concerned that governing bodies of public sector entities need to ensure effective system of internal control because is one of the several factors that influence the performance of an organization and it plays a vital role in achieving management intended objectives that would lead to the successful operations. It is not enough for an organization to have internal controls system over their critical processes but is to ensure that those controls are effective (Candreva, 2006).
Other studies also found out that effectiveness of internal control system helps external auditors to rely on the work of internal auditors and thereby improve their effectiveness (Al-Twaijry et al 2004) . Therefore, internal control systems are integral component of the management processes of every organization which should be establish in order to provide reasonable assurance that the operations are carried out efficiently and effectively. Effective internal controls systems are essential to the effectiveness of organizations operation because it deals with the activities or procedures that are designed to provide reasonable assurance that operations are performing according to plan and these can also influence the effectiveness of internal audit. The Committee of Sponsoring Organization (COSO) also provides the basic principles representing the fundamental concepts of effective internal control in five components of the framework (Candreva, 2006; Sudsomboon & Ussahawanitchakit, 2009).
Though Amudo and Inanga (2009) argued that the weakness of the COSO mechanism is failure to recognize Information Technology as one of the major control components of internal control system and Information Technology is very crucial to internal control framework. That is why most organizations today used Information Technology for authorization, initiation, recording and processing of transactions, because its ensures effectiveness of internal controls system and thereby making it six. At the same time advancements in technological have increased the importance placed on internal controls system (Rezaee et al, 2001). These components must be present and functioning effectively for any internal control system to achieve organizational objectives (COSO)
2.2.1 Control Environment
It refers to the attitude toward internal control and control consciousness established and maintained by the management and the employees of an entity. The control Environment is influenced by the style of management, the competence of the employees and positive ethical values of the corporation, which are determined by the board of directors and get implemented all the way to the functional units. The integrity and ethical values of a corporation are important factors in designing, administering and monitoring of all other internal control components of an organization. The board of directors and its audit committee significantly influence the control environment of a corporation. The level of independence of the board members and it audit committee from executive management team, the extent of board members' oversight over the operations of the company and questioning management's performance are important factors in the designing an internal control system for a corporation.
Control environment is the major aspect of managing an organization this is because is a reflection of the attitude and the policies of management in regard with the importance of internal audit in the economic unit (Theofanis, et al 2011). It has influence over organization goals achievement (Aldridge & Colbert, 1994). However, it is the foundation for the other components of internal control and providing structure (Sudsomboon & Ussahawanitchakit, 2009). Control environment assist toward reducing the level fraudulent activities within organizational operation also the quality of an entity's internal controls system depend on the function and quality of their control environment (Amudo & Inanga, 2009). Therefore, providing a proper control environment in listed firms is very essential to their overall performance.
2.2.2 Risk Assessment
According to COSO Report, every entity faces a variety of risks from external and internal sources that must be assessed at entity-wide and activity levels throughout its operation. Examples of external factors affecting the entity's risks are technological development, changing customer needs, changes in competition pressures, new legislations, natural catastrophes, and economical changes. Examples of internal factors affecting the entity's risk are disruptions in information processing systems, quality of personnel hired, a change in management responsibilities, nature of entity's activities, employees' accessibility to assets, and unassertive on ineffective board or audit committee
Risk management is therefore identification and analysis of relevant risks associated with the achievement of the management objectives (Theofanis, et al 2011). Sudsomboon & Ussahawanitchakit, 2009 also view risk assessment "as the process of identifying and analyzing management relevant risks to the preparation of financial statements that would be presented fairly in conformity with general accepted accounting principle. In this situation, management must determine the level of risk carefully to be accepted, and should try to maintain such risk within determined levels". According to Ahmed et al., 2007, risk management is an activity within project management that is gaining importance because businesses are now moving towards globalization and are facing stiffer increasing competition.
The risk management Standard of Australia 1999 also looks at risk management as the process consisting of a series of steps, which establishes context, identifying, analyzing, assessing, treating, monitoring and communication risks which allow continuous improvement of decision making. Stoddard, J., 2004 concluded his study by stating that risk management is an overwhelming task for every organization such that businesses that implement effective risk management become successful while those that do not practice this activity proved to be unsuccessful
In order for firms to effectively assess the risk, COSO reports provides firms with the following steps:
Establishment of company's risk to achieve its objectives.
Identification, analysis and assessment of Risks to achieve objectives.
Assessment of Risks from internal and external sources at both the entity and the activity levels.
Assessment of Risks related to "change in conditions".
Assessment of financial impacts of Risk Analysis on financial statements.
Therefore, listed companies are required to frequently assess the level of the risk they are experiencing in order to take necessary actions to eliminate to keep the firms on its track of improved financial performance.
2.2.3 Control activities:
According to COSO Report, control activities are policies and procedures to implement management directives. Control activities can be divided into three types of activities; operation, financial reporting and compliance. Control activities consist of preventive controls, detective controls, manual controls, computer controls, and management controls. Control activities are generally handled by entity's personnel in the following ways; Top Level Reviews, Direct functional or Activity Management, Information processing, Physical Controls, Performance Indicators and Segregation of Duties. COSO's assertion was supported by the study of (Aikins, 2011; Rezaee, Elam & Sharbatoghlie, 2001) which concludes that control activities are policies; procedures and mechanisms that ensure management's directives are properly carry out.
Proper documentation of policies and procedural guidelines in these aspects help to determine not only how the control activities are to be executed but also provide adequate information for auditors examination of the overall adequacy of control design over financial management practices (Aikins, 2011). This control activities ensure that all necessary actions should be taken with the aim to address risks so that organizational objectives are achieves. Example of control activities include; segregation of duties, daily deposit of cash receipts, bank reconciliations and limiting access to check stock
2.2.4 Information and communication
It refers to the process of identifying, capturing, and communicating of relevant information in an appropriate manner and within timeframe in order to accomplish the financial reporting objectives (Aldridre & Colbert, 1994). This was in support of COSO's report that stated that Information is needed in all levels of an organization to run the business, and move towards achievement of the entity's objectives in all categories (operations, financial reporting and compliance) and that the quality of system-generated information affects management's decision. However, effective communications should occur in a wider sense with information within the various sections of the organization (Theofanis et al, 2011).
Most of the recent literature on internal control system frameworks gave concerned on information and communication as one of the internal control system components, because of their importance in influencing the working relationship within the organization at all levels (Amudo & Inanga, 2009). Hence, such information must be communicated throughout the entire organization in order to permit personnel to carry out their responsibilities with regard to objective achievement.
It is usually accepted that internal control systems need to be adequate monitored in order to assess the quality and the effectiveness of the system's performance over time. Monitoring provides assurance that the findings of audits and other reviews are promptly determined (Theofanis et al, 2011), also monitoring of operations ensures effective functioning of internal controls system (Amudo & Inanga, 2009). Hence, monitoring determines whether or not policies and procedures designed and implemented by management are being carried out effectively by employees.
2.3 Financial Performance measures
Stoner (2003) defines performance as the ability to operate efficiently, profitability, survive growth and to react to environmental threats and opportunities in a positive manner. This was supported by the studies carried by Sollenberg and Anderson (1995) that states that performance is measured by how efficiently and effectively an enterprise uses its economic resources to achieve its desired goals. Many also believe that the low performance of a firm is as result of poorly performing assets (Hitt, et al 1996).
Financial performance is a term used as a general measure of a firm's overall financial health over a given period of time, and can be used to compare similar firms across the same industry or to compare industries or sectors in aggregation.
Financial performance measures are those which enable firms to direct their actions towards achieving their strategic goals (Dixon et al 1990). According to Kotey and Meredith (1997), performance in general can be measured either by subjective or objective criteria. Verschoor's study also states other measures of financial performance which include value of long-term investment, financial soundness and use of corporate assets. He conclude by identifying some of the non-financial measures that include; innovation, ability to attract, develop and keep skilled employees, quality of management, community and its environmental responsibilities.
Return on assets, return on equity and return on sales are the three indicators that Hitt, et al use in measuring accounting based performance in their study. In another study, Dwivedi (2002) discover that the ability of a firm to survive in business is an indicator of good financial performance.
It shows how assets of a firm can be easily converted into cash quickly in order for firms to meet its short term financial obligations as they fall due. Liquidity also reflects the ability of firm to manage its working capital when kept at normal level. Though that firm can use its liquid assets to finance its activities as well as its investment when there is no external finance at its disposal, Evans and Jovanovic (1989) argues that an abundance of liquidity in a firm may do more harm than good.
Liquidity as a measure of financial performance, Hitt et all (1996) mention current ratio as a standard measure of liquidity in a company. This was also supported by Baysinger, (1989). ACCA and Panday (1996) also suggest acid test ratio as another measures of liquidity in a company.
The findings from the study conducted by Whittington and Pany (2001) on reporting as another key indicator of financial performance talks about the comprehensiveness of internal controls in addressing the achievement of objectives in the areas of financial reporting, operations and compliance with laws and regulations. Their study further revealed that "internal control includes the program for preparing, verifying and distributing to the various levels of management those current reports and analyses that enable executives to maintain control over the variety of activities and functions that are performed in a large organization". The study was concluded by highlighting on some of the internal control devices like budgetary techniques, production standards, inspection laboratories, employee training and time and others. The corporate law according to Bakibinga 2001 requires a separation between ownership and management of an entity. Thus owners entrust the companies resources under the care of the managers who in turn must report back to owners on periodic basis about their stewardship for the resources that have been entrusted under their care in a form of presenting a financial statements that must revealed the financial operations or performance of the company under the period review.
Kotler's (1992) studies revealed that strong performer firms are those that are able to stay in other words survive in business for a good number of years. This was support by the works of Dwivedi (2002) that found out that one of the good indicators of financial performance is business survival. The studies carried out by Richardson, Sonny and Suzan (1994) conclude that thirty-eight active British companies went bankrupt in the third quarter of 1992 and that 12,827 business failed as compared to 15,051 in 1990. Though there are not enough statistics to support the high rate of companies liquidation in Ghana over a maximum period of five years in operations, research conducted in Ugnada on small and medium enterprises(SMEs) by Katuntu (2005) support the fact that about 90% of SMEs runs into liquidation within a maximum of three years. So survival can be said to be a good indicator of financial performance.
Accountability is yet another financial performance indicators identified by the researchers. Hayes, et al, 2005 stated that one way through which managers of a business entity can be accountable for the financial resources entrusted under their care is through regular financial reporting to the owners of those financial assets. In Emasu studies in 2010, he asserts that accountability can be political, social or financial.
1.5 The Profile of Ghana Stock Exchange Market (GSE)
Ghana Stock Exchange was established in July 1989 as a private company limited by guarantee under the Companies Code of 1963 and was later given recognition as an authorized Stock Exchange under the Stock Exchange Act of 1971 (Act 384) in October 1990. The Council of the Exchange was inaugurated on November 12, 1990 and trading commenced on its floor the same day. The stock exchange market changed its status to a public company limited by guarantee in April 1994.
Ghana Stock Exchange market is governed by a Council of nine representing three independent members, two representatives of licensed dealing members, two listed company representatives and two executives. The Council of the Exchange has various committees, which enable it to give special attention to various aspects of the operations of the Exchange. They are the Listing, Finance and Risk Management and Surveillance.
The following are the key roles of the various Committees: Listing Committee considers applications for listing; Finance Committee considers the financial aspects of the Exchange's operations, including budgets and remuneration; Risk Management and Surveillance Committee appraises, and approves applications for membership.
Ghana Stock Exchange is historically set up to provide the facilities and framework to the public for the purchase and sale of bonds, shares and other securities. Secondly is to control the granting of quotations on the securities market in respect of bonds, shares and other securities of any company, corporation, government, municipality, local authority or other body corporate. Regulating the dealings of members with their clients and other members and coordinating the stock dealing activities of members and facilitate the exchange of information including prices of securities listed for their mutual advantages and for benefit of their clients is yet another reason why it is set up. Finally is to co-operate with association of stockholders and exchange markets in other countries as well as obtaining and making timely and appropriate information that will help their client to make informed financial decisions. In 2004, the exchange was adjudged the world's best performing market with a year return of 144 percent in US dollar terms against Morgan Stanley Capital with 30 percent returns as reported in International Global Index (DataBank Group, 2004). The findings conclude that there are great potential for vibrant capital raising activity for the exchange.
Ghana Stock exchange market council membership includes some of the most distinguished and competent persons in Ghanaian commerce, industry, finance and public service whose tireless effort over the years have raised the exchange market capitalization from little over twenty billion Ghana Cedis (GH¢ 20bn) to almost forty-nine billion Ghana Cedis (GH¢49bn) in 2011. These magnificent market performances now place the exchange market at the third largest capital market in Sub-Saharan Africa, after South Africa and Nigeria. Nevertheless, the operations of the market are timely reviewed and refined overtime.
The activities on the stock exchange market are been governed and regulated by the Ghana Stock Exchange Listing Regulations 1990 (LI 1509). In an attempt by the regulation to ensure that internal control mechanisms are put in place by its listed members recommend the formation of Audit sub-committee in all listed companies whose oversight responsibility are to review and evaluate the internal control system; review audited accounts; appoint and remunerate the auditors; review the internal audit procedures and effectiveness and finally the appraisal of the general conduct of the business of the company. The remaining listing regulation are contain in the appendix two.
Corporate debt security may also be admitted to the FOL and SOL if the class of security involved has a total issued amount of not less than ¢200million nominal value with not less than 100 holders. Debt security for the TOL must be a minimum of 050million with at least 50 holders.
In the case of Government securities no thresholds are prescribed in respect of amount and number of holders.
Debt securities, other than Government Securities for which listing is sought should be created by a Trust Deed approved by the Exchange. The trustees should essentially be banks and life insurance institutions.
Transferability of securities
The securities must be freely transferable (see also section 294 of Act 179)
Period of Existence & Profitability
For a company's securities to qualify for listing, it must have published or filed audited accounts for
5 years in the case of FOL,
3 years in the case of SOL, and
1 year in the case of TOL (which may be waived).
In each case the company must have made reasonable profit -taking the total period into consideration.
There must be continuity of company management with a requisite level of competence and integrity (also see sect. 182 of the Companies Code).
Audit sub- committee
There must be written evidence of the existence, operation and effectiveness of an Audit Sub-Committee of the company's board of directors.
Membership of the Sub-Committee should comprise non-executive members of the board. The subcommittee has oversight for the appointment and remuneration of auditors; review and evaluation of internal control system; review of audited accounts; review of internal audit procedures and effectiveness; the appraisal of the general conduct of the business of the company.
The company must issue a prospectus, which complies with the provisions of both the Companies Code, 1963 (Act 179) and the Exchange's rulebook.
4. Process of Listing
The steps required in original listing application process are as follows:
a) The company agrees to list and appoints a Licensed Dealing Member (LDM) to sponsor its application.
â€¢ Specifically the LDM:
- ensures Council is made aware of all requisite information about the company;
- files application , regulations of company, and other documents with the Exchange on behalf of the company;
- vouches the suitability of applicant for listing;
- examines the composition of the company's board of directors for competence and integrity; and
- may make a market in the company's securities.
â€¢ The company agrees to comply with the rules and regulations of the Exchange particularly the continuing listing obligations.
â€¢ Securities for listing may be brought to any class of the Exchange's lists by means of :--prospectus issue.
- offer for sale.
- rights offer.
- open offer.
- capitalisation issue.
2.3.5 Debt Leverage
Debt leverage measures the ratio of total debt to equity. That is it shows the degree to which a firm is using its borrowed money. Companies that are highly leveraged may be at risk of bankruptcy if they are unable to make payments on their debt; they may also be unable to find new lenders in the future. Leverage is not always bad, however; it can increase the shareholders' return on their investment and make good use of the tax advantages associated with borrowing. The trade-off theory (TO) (Bradley, Jarrell and Kim, 1984; Harris and Raviv, 1991) suggests that every firm has a specific optimal debt-to-equity ratio determined by balancing the present value of expected marginal benefits of leverage against the present value of expected marginal costs of leverage. By this theory, each company borrows in order to gradually move towards its optimal debt-equity ratio, which in turn maximizes its market value (given by the present value of the sum of the expected costs and benefits of debt). Furthermore Jensen (1986) and Zwiebel (1996) support that increased debt can reduce the probability of a firm's takeover by committing managers to a more efficient business strategy. Thus, there is either a negative or positive influence of leverage on firms' performance.
2.3.6 Size of a firm
The size of the firm affects its financial performance in many ways. Large firms can exploit economies of scale and scope and thus being more efficient compared to small firms. In addition, small firms may have less power than large firms; hence they may find it difficult to compete with the large firms particularly in highly competitive markets. On the other hand, as firms become larger, they might suffer from x-inefficiencies, leading to inferior financial performance. Theory, therefore, establishes relationship between size and performance (Majumdar, 1997, p.233).
2.3.7 Management Practice
The adoption of best management practices is a source of competitive advantage, positively related to firms' performance, growth and survival. According to Timmons (1994) entrepreneurs who succeed possess not only an innovative behavior but also solid general management skills. Bird (1995) and Ronstadt (1984) conclude that entrepreneur's management skills were conducive to business performance and growth. Successful firms will be those that have developed a core competence in entrepreneurship where a core competence refers to 'a combination of complementary skills and knowledge bases embedded in a group or team that results in the ability to execute one or more critical processes to a world-class standard (Cayne, Hall and Clifford, 1997).
In summary, it can be observed that most of the studies conducted on the internal control and firm's performance were all done in a regulatory environment where companies are mandated to comply with the internal control disclosure and have supported the fact that there is a relationship between the internal control system and the financial performance of a firm. The little that were done in non-regulatory environment like Ghana only seek to find out the effectiveness of the system by scoring listed firms based on the items described in COSO's model.(Joseph .M, Kuipo and Obeng V). Kajola, Sunday O (2008) used ROE and Profit margin to performance of listed firms in Nigeria. He found out that board size and chief executive status have positive relationship with firm's performance. However, looking at the above studies that have been conducted on the effectiveness of the internal control, this research further seeks to examine the empirical study of internal control on firm's performance by examining control environment, risk assessment, monitoring and reference to international code as measures of internal controls on Ghanaian Stock exchange market since studies are yet to be carried in that regards in Ghana.