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Does Selection-Socialization Help to Explain Accountants' Weak Ethical Reasoning?

Mohammad J. Abdolmohammadi, William J. Read and D. Paul Scarbrough
Journal of Business Ethics
Vol. 42, No. 1 (Jan., 2003), pp. 71-81
Published by: Springer
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/25074945
Page Count: 11
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Does Selection-Socialization Help to Explain Accountants' Weak Ethical Reasoning?
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Abstract

Recent business headlines, particularly those related to the collapsed energy-trading giant, Enron and its auditor, Arthur Andersen raise concerns about accountants' ethical reasoning. We propose, and provide evidence from 90 new auditors from Big-Five accounting firms, that a selection-socialization effect exists in the accounting profession that results in hiring accountants with disproportionately higher levels of the Sensing/Thinking (ST) cognitive style. This finding is important and relevant because we also find that the ST cognitive style is associated with relatively low levels of ethical reasoning, regardless of gender. This finding implies a need for emphasis on the ethical training of accountants. The results also suggest that accounting firms should consider recruiting accountants with cognitive styles associated with relatively higher levels of ethical reasoning.

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