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The ethics of final year accountancy students: an international comparison

Conor O’Leary (School of Accountancy, Queensland University of Technology, Brisbane, Australia)
Derry Cotter (Department of Accounting Finance and Information Systems, University College Cork, Ireland)

Managerial Auditing Journal

ISSN: 0268-6902

Article publication date: 1 April 2000



Ethical behaviour is a critical component of the accountancy/auditing profession. This study examines ethical attitudes of final year accountancy students in Ireland and Australia. Students were surveyed as to whether they would accept a bribe and/or cheat in an exam. Their attitudes towards whistleblowing – if they became aware of improprieties such as bribery and cheating – were also reviewed. Of the students, 58 per cent of Irish and 23 per cent of Australian appeared willing to participate in fraud. These percentages plummeted when the risk of being caught was introduced. Males appeared between two and four times more likely than females to act unethically. A total of 56 per cent of Irish and 28 per cent of Australians appeared willing to cheat in an exam with the difference between male and female students being significantly reduced. Again the risk of being caught drastically reduced these figures. Just greater than 50 per cent of Australian and just under 50 per cent of Irish students appeared willing to be whistleblowers. It appears as if educators still have a long way to go as regards providing effective ethical education for trainee accountants/auditors.



O’Leary, C. and Cotter, D. (2000), "The ethics of final year accountancy students: an international comparison", Managerial Auditing Journal, Vol. 15 No. 3, pp. 108-115.




Copyright © 2000, MCB UP Limited

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