Accounting education, socialisation and the ethics of business

Abstract

This study provides empirical evidence in relation to a growing body of literature concerned with the ‘socialisation’ effects of accounting and business education. A prevalent criticism within this literature is that accounting and business education in the United Kingdom and the United States, by assuming a ‘value-neutral’ appearance, ignores the implicit ethical and moral assumptions by which it is underpinned. In particular, it has been noted that accounting and business education tends to prioritise the interests of shareholders above all other stakeholder groups. This paper reports on the results of a set of focus group interviews with both undergraduate accounting students and students commencing their training with a professional accounting body. The research explores their perceptions about the purpose of accounting and the objectives of business. The findings suggest that both university and professional students' views on these issues tend to be informed by an Anglo-American shareholder discourse, whereby the needs of shareholders are prioritised. Moreover, this shareholder orientation appeared to be more pronounced for professional accounting students

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