This paper synthesises the research related to managing conflict of interests in professional accounting firms. The main purpose is to provide information about the current state of knowledge on this topic and to highlight the areas requiring further research. The extant research has been reviewed by developing a framework through the integration of Risk Management Framework by ISO 31000:2009 and the International Code of Ethics for Professional Accountants. Specifically, literature has been classified across the establishment of context, assessment, treatment, control and monitoring of conflict of interests. The literature reveals that there is a lack of understanding about how the conflict of interests operates at the level of an individual accounting professional. Addressing this gap will help to develop behavioural interventions for strengthening the professionals’ independence in fact and, thereby, facilitating the management of conflict of interests. The key message this synthesised research provides for professional accounting firms and the regulators is that, for effective management of conflict of interests, behavioural interventions should be informed by the professionals’ unconscious (automatic) as well as their conscious (controlled) cognitive processes. This study is the first one to view the conflict of interests in a professional accounting environment through the lens of behavioural risk management. Moreover, the framework adopted for reviewing the extant literature provides a comprehensive view of the issues surrounding the ineffective management of the conflict of interests.
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American Institute of Certified Public Accountants
National Association of State Boards of Accountancy
Association of Accounting Technicians
Association of Chartered Certified Accountants
Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales
Certified Institute of Management Accountants
Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy
Institute of Chartered Accountants of Scotland (ICAS)
Chartered Accountants Ireland
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My appreciation goes to Prof. Magdy Abdel-Kader and Dr Mirna Jabbour for their useful comments on the work this paper derives from.
This paper is part of the empirical study conducted for my PhD. I received a PhD studentship from the Anglia Ruskin University (United Kingdom).
Conflict of interests
I declare that I have no conflict of interest.
Research Involving Human Participants and/or Animals
This study does not involve human participants.
This study does not involve human participants.
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Ishaque, M. Managing Conflict of Interests in Professional Accounting Firms: A Research Synthesis. J Bus Ethics 169, 537–555 (2021). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10551-019-04284-8
- Conflict of interests
- Professional accounting
- Ethical decision-making
- Independence in fact
- Behavioural interventions
- Behavioural risk management