Despite formal ethics education and ethics-related continuing professional education (CPE) requirements, professional accountants continue to play a central role in enabling corporations to make unethical business decisions and take unethical business actions. Several jurisdictions in the United States require ethics education for licensure, but often the focus is on memorizing rules and regulations, rather than on providing tools to improve the moral practice of professionals and to help them resolve ethical dilemmas. The authors analyzed recent state Certified Public Accountant (CPA) society course offerings and found much more emphasis on memorization than on ethical reasoning to satisfy State CPA CPE requirements. To improve accountants’ ethical awareness and behavior, CPE providers should stress ethical reasoning rather than merely memorizing rules. Such changes will make future and present accountants and auditors more ethically aware, and thus more likely to improve their ethical decision-making. Nonetheless, the authors suggest that effective ethics education and training should start in the classroom with help from departmental advisory councils. Ethics courses offered in accounting programs as well as those offered by CPE providers can leverage the experience of members of advisory councils to create programs that resonate with professionals and foster lifelong ethical awareness and ethical reasoning skills.
We appreciate the input from Barbara Apostolou (West Virginia University), and from Graduate Research Assistants Brian Leonard (Wayne State University) and Connor Rodheim (Northern Illinois University).
Reinstein, A., Churyk, N.T., Taylor, E.Z. and Williams, P.F. (2019), "Using Accounting Department Advisory Councils and Higher Quality Continuing Education Requirements to Improve the Accounting Profession’s Ethical Reasoning Skills", Calderon, T.G. (Ed.) Advances in Accounting Education: Teaching and Curriculum Innovations (Advances in Accounting Education, Vol. 23), Emerald Publishing Limited, Bingley, pp. 177-193. https://doi.org/10.1108/S1085-462220190000023012
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