An examination of differences in ethical decision-making between canadian business students and accounting professionals

Journal of Business Ethics 30 (4):319 - 336 (2001)
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This study investigates the differences in individuals'' ethical decision making between Canadian university business students and accounting professionals. We examine the differences in three measures known to be important in the ethical decision-making process: ethical awareness, ethical orientation, and intention to perform questionable acts. We tested for differences in these three measures in eight different questionable actions among three groups: students starting business studies, those in their final year of university, and professional accountants.The measures of awareness capture the extent to which respondents felt that a particular action was unethical according to each of several ethical criteria. We found few differences between the two student groups on these measures, suggesting that their education had minimal effect on raising their awareness of the ethical issues in the vignettes. Indeed, overall, the graduating student''s scores were marginally lower than those of the entry-level students. However, the professionals viewed some actions as significantly less ethical than did the graduating students.



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