The research aims at evaluating the anomalies and unusual patterns of accounting numbers reported by Italian universities. In particular, the research examines the receivables and payables values contained in the financial reports of Italian universities. The research applies a mathematical law, known as Benford’s Law. It implies that, in a naturally occurring set of numbers, the leading digits of the numbers are discrete exponentially distributed rather than uniformly distributed, meaning that the numbers 1 through 9 do not have equal probability of occurring. As Benford’s Law shows that there is some predictability in the distribution of the first digit in a series of data, it can be used to indicate the presence of fictitious or artificially manipulated numbers. Surprisingly, the statistical tests show a large degree of compliance between the observed and the expected distributions. The conformity is clear and persistent over all the 9 years.
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