Journal of Business Ethics

, Volume 141, Issue 3, pp 477–488 | Cite as

Fences as Controls to Reduce Accountants’ Rationalization

  • Alan ReinsteinEmail author
  • Eileen Z. Taylor


Occupational fraud frequently involves the direct or indirect participation of professional accountants (PA). To reduce fraud, companies often focus on the incentive/pressure and opportunity legs of the fraud triangle, perhaps believing that rationalization is beyond their control. We argue that rationalization reduction is necessary to minimize occupational fraud. We propose that educators and PA consider incorporating fences as controls to reduce rationalization. Because they focus on compliance and risk avoidance and are non-negotiable, fences appeal to accountant’s Myers Briggs personalities and conventional level of moral development. Educators can teach students about the fences used in practice, and explain how they help new professionals resist pressures and temptations. By adding fences to existing professional guidance, accountants can reduce the likelihood that they will be a party to fraud.


Ethics Fraud Business and accounting education Internal control Fences 



We thank Mohammad Abdolmohammadi (Bentley University), Abe Akresh (Retired), Steve Albrecht (Brigham Young University), Philip Beaulieu (University of Calgary), Bruce Burnwell (Light of the World Christian Center), Dave Duprey (Comerica), Becky Heath (Middle Tennessee State University), Jerry Hepp (Gnosis Praxis Ltd.), Mel Houston (Attorney at Law), Brian Shapiro (University of St. Thomas-Minnesota), Dave Sinsaon (Northern Illinois Universty), Greg Thibadoux (University of Tennessee-Chattanooga), Doug Toering (Attorney at Law), Greg Trompeter (University of Central Florida), Paul Williams (North Carolina State University) and Leah Woodall (Google) for their excellent comments on earleir drafts of this paper. Andrew Miller and Omar Zeben provided able research assistance at Wayne State Univesity.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of BusinessWayne State UniversityDetroitUSA
  2. 2.Poole College of ManagementNorth Carolina State UniversityRaleighUSA

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