Ethics Education in Accounting Essay

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J. of Acc. Ed. 21 (2003) 1–16 www.elsevier.com/locate/jaccedu Main article Ethics education in accounting: moving toward ethical motivation and ethical behavior Mary Beth Armstronga,*, J. Edward Ketzb, Dwight Owsenc Accounting Area, College of Business, California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo, CA 93407, USA b MBA Office, Smeal College of Business, 106 Business Administration Building, The Pennsylvania State University, University Park, PA 16802-3000, USA c Department of Accounting, College of Business, Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge, LA 70803-6304, USA Received 1 January 2001; accepted 1 August 2002 a Abstract This paper reviews the literature on ethics education in accounting and utilizes Thorne’s 1998 Integrated Model of Ethical Decision Making to categorize that literature. The review reveals a preponderance of work discussing moral development, which consists of sensitivity and prescriptive reasoning, but a shortage of work addressing virtue, which consists of ethical motivation and ethical behavior. Because of this deficiency, the authors explore the potential of exhortation and moral exemplars to increase ethical motivation among accounting students, faculty, and practitioners. # 2002 Elsevier Science Ltd. All rights reserved. Keywords: Ethics education; Moral development 1. Introduction One can hardly pick up a business publication today without noting some reference to an accounting scandal. Enron is only one dishonor to the profession, though perhaps the best known; other recent accounting and auditing failures include WorldCom, Microsoft, Peregrine Systems, Rite Aid, Sunbeam, Tyco, Waste Management, W.R. Grace, and Xerox, among many others. The sheer number of * Corresponding author. Tel.: +1-805-756-2084; fax: +1-805-756-1473. E-mail addresses: marmstro@calpoly.edu (M.B. Armstrong), k55@psu.edu (J.E. Ketz).

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