Role Morality and Accountants’ Ethically Sensitive Decisions

Advances in Accounting Behavioral Research

ISBN: 978-0-76231-218-4, eISBN: 978-1-84950-348-8

ISSN: 1475-1488

Publication date: 10 August 2005


If individuals exhibit less ethical behavior in the workplace than in their personal decisions, this may constitute evidence of role morality behavior. Role morality can be defined as “claim(ing) a moral permission to harm others in ways that, if not for the role, would be wrong” (Applbaum, 1999. Ethics for adversaries: The morality of roles in public and professional life (p. 3). Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.) To investigate this issue, 55 practicing accountants completed and returned the experimental survey. Results show that in many situations, business decisions were less ethical than personal decisions, consistent with the theory of role morality. The implications and limitations of this study as they relate to practicing accountants are discussed.


Radtke, R. (2005), "Role Morality and Accountants’ Ethically Sensitive Decisions", Arnold, V. (Ed.) Advances in Accounting Behavioral Research (Advances in Accounting Behavioural Research, Vol. 8), Emerald Group Publishing Limited, Bingley, pp. 113-138.

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