Journal of Business Ethics

, Volume 93, Issue 4, pp 531-551

First online:

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

  • Breda SweeneyAffiliated withNUI Galway Email author 
  • , Don ArnoldAffiliated withUnion Graduate College
  • , Bernard PierceAffiliated withDublin City University

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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 conflict ethical culture ethical decision making underreporting of time quality threatening behaviours time pressure