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Linking the Ethics and Management Control Literatures

Advances in Management Accounting

ISBN: 978-1-78714-530-6, eISBN: 978-1-78714-529-0

Publication date: 3 July 2017



This paper examines the linkages between the ethics and management control literatures and suggests some potentially fruitful areas for future research and for integration in the classroom.


We review topics in the ethics and management control literatures organizing them around the six modules used in the accounting ethics course taught at the University of Southern California: (a) professional standards, (b) distinguishing right from wrong, (c) understanding why (good) people do bad things, (d) getting employees to behave ethically (corporate ethics programs), (e) getting people to speak up when they see something wrong taking place (Giving Voice to Values), and (f) whistleblowing (the last resort).


While we find many topics where ethics and management control are concerned with similar issues, there are very few papers that approach these topics from the two perspectives.


We provide an overview of topics where ethics and management control overlap, and highlight the need for greater convergence between the two literatures. By linking MCS and ethics, organizations can provide a framework to promote behavior that both contributes to the achievement of the organization’s objectives and also follows ethical principles. We comment on what may happen when ethics and management control diverge, and discuss controls that can promote a strong ethical climate.



Merchant, K.A. and White, L.F. (2017), "Linking the Ethics and Management Control Literatures ", Advances in Management Accounting (Advances in Management Accounting, Vol. 28), Emerald Publishing Limited, Bingley, pp. 1-29.



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