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Exploring Group Effects on Individual Ethical Judgements and Whistleblowing Decisions of Accountancy Students

Journal of Commerce and Accounting Research

Volume 5 Issue 1

Published: 2016
Author(s) Name: Sally M. Li, Will W. K. Ma | Author(s) Affiliation:
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Abstract

Public confidence in the finance industry has been shaken by the numerous accounting scandals and corporate failures in recent years. These events have damaged the high regard and perceived integrity of professional accountants. As university students are prospective business leaders, it is important to develop their ethical reasoning and judgement to uphold the professionalism and justice in society. In this study, we examine the ethical judgement of final year accountancy students using brief vignettes that describe scenarios such as violations of codes of ethics, involvement in fraudulent activities, and earnings management. The various scenarios are commonly encountered by certified public accountants (CPA). In particular, we used a survey questionnaire to obtain 120 final year accountancy students perceived ethical responses to 6 vignettes together with their whistle blowing responses to each vignette, from inaction to internal or external whistle blowing. After they completed their individual answers, the students were requested to form groups of three to four members to provide group responses to the same set of vignettes. The results of this study provide evidence that prospective CPA can be encouraged to think independently, work collaboratively and enhance their ethical sensitivity and judgement through participating in group discussions. The limitations of the study are identified along with suggestions for future studies.

Keywords: Ethics, Ethics Education, Ethical Judgement, Final Year Accountancy Students, Group Decision, Whistleblowing

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