Journal of Business Ethics

, Volume 29, Issue 1, pp 45-49

First online:

Student Honor Codes as a Tool for Teaching Professional Ethics

  • Linda Achey KidwellAffiliated withDepartment of Accounting, Niagara University

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Today's business students have grown up in a society where distinctions between right and wrong have become blurred and where unethical behavior is observed and even expected in high-profile leaders. Especially troubling is the impression educators have that many students no longer view cheating as morally wrong (Pavela and McCabe, 1993). By contrast, the general public is demanding higher ethics of businesspeople. In this environment, educators are challenged to instill ethical norms in business students, especially when recent research indicates that students intending to enter business fields are more likely than any other group of students to engage in cheating and other forms of academic dishonesty (McCabe and Trevino, 1995). One of the major future roles of accounting students depends on their honesty, however. For audits to have economic value, the auditors must be perceived by the public as acting with independence, integrity, and objectivity. Public accountants have adopted a Code of Professional Conduct in order to protect the integrity of the profession. In an effort to teach accounting students the importance of ethical professional conduct, the author has developed a class project wherein groups of students write proposals for a student honor code at Niagara University.