Improving Ethical Attitudes or Simply Teaching Ethical Codes? The Reality of Accounting Ethics Education

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Cameron, Robyn Ann
O'Leary, Conor
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2015
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Abstract

Ethical instruction is critical in accounting education. However, does accounting ethics teaching actually instil core ethical values or simply catalogue how students should act when confronted with typical accounting ethical dilemmas? This study extends current literature by distinguishing between moral/ethical and legal/ethical matters and then re-evaluating the effectiveness of ethics training. A cohort of final year accounting students with significant ethical training evaluated ethical scenarios. Half were moral (non-legal) and half contained legal as well as moral components. After further ethical instruction they re-evaluated the scenarios. Ethical attitudes towards legal/moral issues improved, but attitudes towards moral only issues did not. This questions previous studies which purport to demonstrate the effectiveness of ethical instruction and queries the benefits of accounting ethics education. Are fundamental ethical principles being ignored in an effort to prevent more obvious accounting wrongdoings? Accounting ethics training needs to be reassessed if true ethical improvement is to be achieved.

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Accounting Education

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© 2015 Taylor & Francis (Routledge). This is an Accepted Manuscript of an article published by Taylor & Francis in Accounting Education on 06 May 2015, available online: https://doi.org/10.1080/09639284.2015.1036893

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Accounting, auditing and accountability

Accounting, auditing and accountability not elsewhere classified

Economics, business and management curriculum and pedagogy

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