Journal of Business Ethics 169 (3):537-555 (2019)

This paper synthesises the research related to managing conflict of interests in professional accounting firms. The main purpose is to provide information about the current state of knowledge on this topic and to highlight the areas requiring further research. The extant research has been reviewed by developing a framework through the integration of Risk Management Framework by ISO 31000:2009 and the International Code of Ethics for Professional Accountants. Specifically, literature has been classified across the establishment of context, assessment, treatment, control and monitoring of conflict of interests. The literature reveals that there is a lack of understanding about how the conflict of interests operates at the level of an individual accounting professional. Addressing this gap will help to develop behavioural interventions for strengthening the professionals’ independence in fact and, thereby, facilitating the management of conflict of interests. The key message this synthesised research provides for professional accounting firms and the regulators is that, for effective management of conflict of interests, behavioural interventions should be informed by the professionals’ unconscious as well as their conscious cognitive processes. This study is the first one to view the conflict of interests in a professional accounting environment through the lens of behavioural risk management. Moreover, the framework adopted for reviewing the extant literature provides a comprehensive view of the issues surrounding the ineffective management of the conflict of interests.
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DOI 10.1007/s10551-019-04284-8
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