Journal of Business Ethics

, Volume 64, Issue 3, pp 271–284 | Cite as

Ethics and the Auditing Culture: Rethinking the Foundation of Accounting and Auditing

  • David SatavaEmail author
  • Cam Caldwell
  • Linda Richards


Although the foundation of financial accounting and auditing has traditionally been based upon a rule-based framework, the concept of a principle-based approach has been periodically advocated since being incorporated into the AICPA Code of Conduct in 1989. Recent high profile events indicate that the accountants and auditors involved have followed rule-based ethical perspectives and have failed to protect investors and stakeholders – resulting in a wave of scandals and charges of unethical conduct. In this paper we describe how the rule-based traditions of auditing became a convenient vehicle that perpetuated the unethical conduct of firms such as Enron and Arthur Andersen. We present a model of ten ethical perspectives and briefly describe how these ten ethical perspectives impact rule-based and principle-based ethical conduct for accountants and auditors. We conclude by identifying six specific suggestions that the accounting and auditing profession should consider to restore public trust and to improve the ethical conduct of accountants and auditors.


accounting accounting ethics audit/auditing business ethics ethics ethical conduct financial accounting and auditing model of ten ethical perspectives principle-based accounting rule-based accounting 


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Copyright information

© Springer 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of Houston-VictoriaVictoria
  2. 2.Long Island UniversityBrookville
  3. 3.School of Business AdministrationUniversity of HoustonVictoria

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