Reactions to ethical dilemmas: A study pertaining to certified public accountants

Abstract

This study discusses how perceptions of ethics are formed by certified public accountants (CPAs). Theologians are used as a point of comparison. When considering CPA ethical dilemmas, both subject groups in this research project viewed ‘confidentiality’ and ‘independence’ as more important than ‘recipient of responsibility’ and ‘seriousness of breach’. Neither group, however, was insensitive to any of the factors presented for its consideration. CPA reactions to ethical dilemmas were governed primarily by provisions of the CPA ethics code; conformity to that code may well be evidence of higher stage moral reasoning.

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Gregory A. Claypool is Associate Professor of Accounting and Finance at Youngstown State University.

David F. Fetyko is Professor of Accounting at Kent State University.

Michael A. Pearson is Professor of Accounting at Kent State University. He is the author of ‘Enhancing Perceptions of Auditor Independence’, Journal of Business Ethics 4 (1985), 53–6, and ‘Auditor Independence Deficiencies and Alleged Audit Failures’, Journal of Business Ethics 6 (1987), 281–7.

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Claypool, G.A., Fetyko, D.F. & Pearson, M.A. Reactions to ethical dilemmas: A study pertaining to certified public accountants. J Bus Ethics 9, 699–706 (1990). https://doi.org/10.1007/BF00386352

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Keywords

  • Economic Growth
  • Moral Reasoning
  • Subject Group
  • Ethical Dilemma
  • High Stage