Journal of Business Ethics

, Volume 93, Issue 4, pp 531–551

The Impact of Perceived Ethical Culture of the Firm and Demographic Variables on Auditors’ Ethical Evaluation and Intention to Act Decisions


DOI: 10.1007/s10551-009-0237-3

Cite this article as:
Sweeney, B., Arnold, D. & Pierce, B. J Bus Ethics (2010) 93: 531. doi:10.1007/s10551-009-0237-3


This study examined the impact of perceived ethical culture of the firm and selected demographic variables on auditors’ ethical evaluation of, and intention to engage in, various time pressure-induced dysfunctional behaviours. Four audit cases and questionnaires were distributed to experienced pre-manager level auditors in Ireland and the U.S. The findings revealed that while perceived unethical pressure to engage in dysfunctional behaviours and unethical tone at the top were significant in forming an ethical evaluation, only perceived unethical pressure had an impact on intention to engage in the behaviours. Country was also found to have a significant impact, with U.S. respondents reporting higher ethical evaluations and lower intentions to engage in unethical acts than Irish respondents. Implications of the findings and areas for future research are discussed.


auditor conflictethical cultureethical decision makingunderreporting of timequality threatening behaviourstime pressure



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Underreporting of time


Quality threatening behaviour


Ethical culture question

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.NUI GalwayGalwayIreland
  2. 2.Union Graduate CollegeSchenectadyUSA
  3. 3.Dublin City UniversityDublinIreland