Organizational Influence in a Model of the Moral Decision Process of Accountants.

This paper reports on a survey that investigated the moral decision processes of accountants. A formal belief revision model is adapted and hypotheses based on theorizations from the cognitive-developmental school are tested. The moral decision processes of accountants are hypothesized to be influenced by professional expectations, organizational expectations and internalized expectations. Subjects provided specific demographic data and were asked to access the appropriateness of fourteen principles for making moral decisions in business. Subjects were also asked to indicate which of the fourteen approaches would be most appropriate for resolving each of five ethical situations that are representative of common ethical dilemmas in accounting. Subjects' responses to the appropriateness of the fourteen principles are reduced to two dimensions using factor analysis. The factors are consistent and representative of important underlying dimensions of the stages of moral development. Demographic variables are correlated with the extracted factors using analysis of variance. The results show that subjects consider interpersonal expectations and conformity to be more appropriate than approaches that are self-serving. These findings suggest that ethical decision processes of accountants are influenced by organizational support. Age, gender, and education were also found to influence the moral decision process. Overall, the findings are consistent with the expectations hypothesized from the cognitive-developmental school and suggest that the moral development of accountants is ongoing.

Main Author: Jones, Scott K.
Other Authors: Hiltebeitel, Kenneth M.
Format: Villanova Faculty Authorship
Language: English
Published: 1995
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