Journal of Business Ethics

, Volume 62, Issue 3, pp 209–220 | Cite as

Linking Culture and Ethics: A Comparison of Accountants’ Ethical Belief Systems in the Individualism/Collectivism and Power Distance Contexts


This study uses accounting professionals from an international setting to test the individualism and power distance cultural dimensions developed by Hofstede [Culture’s Consequences (Sage Publications, Beverly Hills, CA) 1980]. Six countries, which appropriately represented high and low values on the Hofstede dimensions, were chosen for the survey of ethical beliefs. Respondents (n = 249) from the six countries were requested to supply their agreement/disagreement with eight questionable behaviors associated with the work environment. Each of these behaviors contained an individualism and/or power distance cultural component for the responding accountants to consider. The results of the cultural analysis indicated significance on five of the eight survey items. Results lend support for the presence of the individualism cultural element in the ethical responses of the accountants surveyed.


culture ethics individualism/collectivism power distance contexts 


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Abratt, R., Nel, D., Higgs, N. S. 1992‘An Examination of the Ethical Beliefs of Managers Using Selected Scenarios in a Cross-Cultural Environment’Journal of Business Ethics112935CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Alderson, S., Kakabadse, A. 1994‘Business Ethics and Irish Management: A Cross-cultural Study’European Management Journal4432441Google Scholar
  3. Becker, H., Fritzsche, D. J. 1987‘Business Ethics: A Cross-cultural Comparison of Managers’ Attitudes’Journal of Business Ethics6289295CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Chow, C. W., Harrison, G. L., McKinnon, J. L., Wu, A. 2002‘The Organizational Culture of Public Accounting Firms: Evidence from Taiwanese Local and U.S. Affiliated Firms’Accounting, Organizations and Society27347360CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Cohen, J., Pant, L., Sharp, D. 1996‘A Methodological Note on Cross-cultural Accounting Ethics Research’International Journal of Accounting315566Google Scholar
  6. Cohen, J. R., Pant, L. W., Sharp, D. J. 1993‘Culture-based Ethical Conflicts Confronting Multinational Accounting Firms’Accounting Horizons7113Google Scholar
  7. Cohen, J. R., Pant, L. W., Sharp, D. J. 1992‘Cultural and Socioeconomic Constraints on International Codes of Ethics: Lessons from Accounting’Journal of Business Ethics11687700CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Dolecheck M. M. and Dolecheck C. C. 1987. ‘Business Ethics: A Comparison of Attitudes of Managers in Hong Kong and the United States’, The Hong Kong Manager (Apr/May), 28–43.Google Scholar
  9. Douglas, P. C., Davidson, R. A., Schwartz, B. N. 2001‘The Effect of Organizational Culture and Ethical Orientation on Accountants’ Ethical Judgments’Journal of Business Ethics34101121CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Dubinsky A. J., Jolson M. A., Kotabe M. and Lim C. U. 1991. ‘A Cross-National Investigation of Industrial Salespeople’s Ethical Perceptions’, Journal of International Business Studies Fourth Quarter, 651–670.Google Scholar
  11. Fogarty, T. J. 1995‘Accounting Ethics: A Brief Examination of Neglected Sociological Dimensions’Journal of Business Ethics14103115CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Froelich, K. S., Kottke, J. L. 1991‘Measuring Individual Beliefs About Organizational Ethics’Educational and Psychological Measurement51377383Google Scholar
  13. Hofstede, G. 1991Cultures and Organizations - Software of the MindMcGraw HillLondonGoogle Scholar
  14. Hofstede, G. 1987

    ‘The Cultural Context of Accounting’

    Cushing, B. E. eds. Accounting and Culture.American Accounting AssociationSarasota, FL
    Google Scholar
  15. Hofstede, G. 1983‘The Cultural Relativity of Organizational Practices and Theories’Journal of International Business Studies147589CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Hofstede, G. 1982Scoring Guide for Values Survey ModuleInstitute for Research on Intercultural CooperationMaastricht, The NetherlandsGoogle Scholar
  17. Hofstede, G. 1980Culture’s ConsequencesSage PublicationsBeverly Hills, CAGoogle Scholar
  18. Hofstede, G., Neuijen, B., Ohayv, D. D., Sanders, G. 1990‘Measuring Organizational Cultures: A Qualitative and Quantitative Study of Twenty Cases’Administrative Science Quarterly35286316Google Scholar
  19. Holmes, S., Marsden, S. 1996‘An Exploration of the Espoused Organizational Cultures of Public Accounting Firms’Accounting Horizons102653Google Scholar
  20. Hood, J. N., Koberg, C. S. 1991‘Accounting Firm Cultures and Creativity Among Accountants’Accounting Horizons51219Google Scholar
  21. Hunt, S. D., Wood, V. R., Chonko, L. B. 1989‘Corporate Ethical Values and Organizational Commitment in Marketing’Journal of Marketing537990Google Scholar
  22. Karnes, A., Sterner, J., Welker, R., Wu, F. 1989‘A Bicultural Study of Independent Auditors’ Perceptions of Unethical Business Practices’International Journal of Accounting242941Google Scholar
  23. Kelley, L., A. Whatley and R. Worthley: 1987, ‘Assessing the Effects of Culture on Managerial Attitudes: A Three-Culture Test’, Journal of International Business Studies (Summer), 17–31.Google Scholar
  24. Langlois, C. C., Schlegelmilch, B. B. 1990‘Do Corporate Codes of Ethics Reflect National Character? Evidence from Europe and the United States’Journal of International Business Studies21519539CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Paláu, S. L. 2001‘Ethical Evaluations, Intentions, and Orientations of Accountants: Evidence from a Cross-Cultural Examination’International Advances in Economic Research7351364Google Scholar
  26. Patel, C., Harrison, G. L., McKinnon, J. L. 2002‘Cultural Influence on Judgments of Professional Accountants in Auditor-Client Conflict Resolution’Journal of International Financial Management and Accounting13131CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Peters, T., Waterman, R. 1982In Search of ExcellenceHarper and RowNew YorkGoogle Scholar
  28. Pratt, J., Beaulieu, P. 1992‘Organizational Culture in Public Accounting: Size, Technology, Rank, and Functional Area’Accounting, Organizations and Society17667684CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Pratt, J., Mohrweis, L. C., Beaulieu, P. 1993‘The Interaction Between National and Organizational Culture in Accounting Firms: An Extension’Accounting, Organizations and Society18621628Google Scholar
  30. Preble, J. F., Reichel, A. 1988‘Attitudes Toward Business Ethics of Future Managers in the U.S. and Israel’Journal of Business Ethics7941949Google Scholar
  31. Ralston, D. A., Giacalone, R. A., Terpstra, R. H. 1994‘Ethical Perceptions of Organizational Politics: A Comparative Evaluation of American and Hong Kong Managers’Journal of Business Ethics13989999CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Ralston, D.A., Gustafson, D.J., Cheung, F.M., Terpstra, R.H. 1993‘Differences in Managerial Values: A Study of U.S., Hong Kong and P.R.C. Managers’Journal of International Business Studies24249275Google Scholar
  33. Schultz, J. J.,Jr., Johnson, D. A., Morris, D., Dyrnes, S. 1993‘An Investigation of the Reporting of Questionable Acts in an International Setting’Journal of Accounting Research31 supplement75103Google Scholar
  34. Smith, A., Rogers, V. 2000‘Ethics-Related Responses to Specific Situation Vignettes: Evidence of Gender-Based Differences and Occupational Socialization’Journal of Business Ethics287386CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Soeters, J., Schreuder, H. 1988‘The Interaction Between National and Organizational Cultures in Accounting Firms’Accounting, Organizations and Society137585CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Tsui, J. 1996‘Auditors’s Ethical Reasoning: Some Audit Conflict and Cross Cultural Evidence’International Journal of Accounting31121133Google Scholar
  37. Tsui, J., Windsor, C. 2001‘Some Cross-Cultural Evidence of Ethical Reasoning’Journal of Business Ethics31143150CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Ueno, S., Wu, F. 1993‘The Comparative Influence of Culture on Budget Control Practices in the United States and Japan’International Journal of Accounting281739Google Scholar
  39. Wiener, Y. 1988‘Forms of Value Systems: A Focus on Organizational Effectiveness and Cultural Change and Maintenance’Academy of Management Review13534545Google Scholar
  40. Windsor, C. A., Ashkanasy, N. M. 1996‘Auditor Independence Decision Making: The Role of Organizational Culture Perceptions’Behavioral Research in Accounting88097Google Scholar
  41. Yamamura, J. H., Frakes, A. H., Sanders, D. L., Ahn, S. K. 1996‘A Comparison of Japanese and U.S. Auditor Decision-making Behavior’The International Journal of Accounting31347363CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of AccountingStephen F. Austin UniversityNacogdochesU.S.A
  2. 2.Longwood UniversityFarmvilleU.S.A

Personalised recommendations