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The Effectivenss of a Complaint-Based Ethics Enforcement System: Evidence from the Accounting Profession

S. Douglas Beets and Larry N. Killough
Journal of Business Ethics
Vol. 9, No. 2 (Feb., 1990), pp. 115-126
Published by: Springer
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/25072013
Page Count: 12
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The Effectivenss of a Complaint-Based Ethics Enforcement System: Evidence from the Accounting Profession
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Abstract

Many professions, in order to enforce their ethics codes, rely on a complaint-based system, whereby persons who observe or discover ethics violations may file a complaint with an authoritative body. The authors assume that this type of system may encourage ethical behavior when practitioners believe that a punishment is likely to result from a failure to adhere to the rules. This perceived likelihood of punishment has three components: detection risk, reporting risk, and sanction risk. A survey of potential violation witnesses related to the accounting profession revealed that the profession's complaint-based enforcement system may not provide practitioners with the necessary disincentive to refrain from code violations.

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