The design of earnings management depends on a variety of external factors. The different aims of public companies and small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) are the initiation of this investigation.At the beginning of this paper the basics of accounting choices will be explained. There the basic directions , policy makers and addressees of earnings management will be explaint in detail.Among other things, the interaction of personal aims of individual people and corporate objectives are analyzed and shown, which different incentives for earnings management can result for public and private firms.Furthermore, the importance of small and medium-sized enterprises for the Austrian and European economy is examined more closely and a distinction from large public companies will be made. The aim is to provide an understanding of the different consequences of accounting standards in relation to the earnings activities of the different size classes of companies.Finally, in the main part of the work, the separate incentives and the different effects for earnings management are analyzed for publicly traded large companies and SME. The incentives are divided and examined in regulatory, contractual and capital market-related groups.As a difficulty in empirical research shows that in practice, several of these incentives on companies applied simultaneously. Thus, the determination of a single earnings management operation concerning a separate incentive is difficult.In the study it was shown that , relatively little is known about other motives of small and medium-sized enterprises in addition to the well-documented incentives of tax minimization and the debt- induced income smoothing.