In the past there have been several cases in the business environment related to the practices of accountants and auditors who have violated the trust and confidence of public. A number of researches have been conducted to find the potential factors resulting in unethical, biased or inappropriate decision making and judgments by the professionals. The aim of this paper is to review two academic articles and conclude on the reliability of the claims and assertions made by the authors.
The research paper of Pflugrath, Martinov-Bennie &ump; Chen (2007) aims to analyze the impact of organizational codes of ethics on the accountants’ and auditors’ judgments and professional decisions making skills. The research is conducted on a sample of 112 professional accountants and auditing students and resulted in indicating that the codes of ethics positively influence the judgments of professional accountants but does not affect the students’ judgments.
On the other hand, the paper by Shafer, Morrid &ump; Ketchand (2001) is based on the research of the professional auditors and the impact of their personal values on their ethical judgments and behavioral intentions. The study concluded that personal values do not affect the ethical considerations and judgments of professional auditors. However, the knowledge and the understanding of moral intensity have an impact on the judgments abilities of the professional accountants.
Pfflugrath, Martinov-Bennie &ump; Chen (2007) conducted the study basing their discussion on the new International Standard on Quality Controls 1’s (ISQC1) requirements for all organizations and accounting firms to implement policies and regulations which support the ethical and technical independence of the professional accountants. “The presence of a code of ethics appears to have a significant influence on the quality audit judgments of professional accountants’’ (Pfflugrath, Martinov-Bennie &ump; Chen, 2007).
In terms of aggressive client preferences, the code of ethics may help in better judgment by the professional auditors and accountants. In contrast Shafer, Morrid &ump; Ketchand (2001) suggest that in case of client’s pressure on aggressive financial reporting, “auditors’ ethical behavior influenced by economic or utilitarian considerations”. Shafer et. al. , (2001) suggest that strong organizational norms should result in the standardization of behaviors. In this regard, the results of Pflugrath et. al.
(2007) may be judged as fairly consistent that organizational codes of ethics may help in ethical decision making of employees and professionals in auditing and accounting fields. Unitary codes of ethics may help in standardization for the accounting and auditing professionals and may result in similar findings for the similar scenarios or situations that prevail in different companies or businesses. Pflugrath et. al. (2007) gives arguments which are more persuasive and compatible with the existing literature.
The research methodology of both the papers provides reasonable assurance of the validity of their judgments, however, Shafer et. al. , (2001) has weakness of the homogeneity of the values of the sample which is the major portion of the participants used for the research. The results, hence, may not reliable for the diversified population of today’s business environment where people with different personal values and social norms are working together. For such a diversified population in the business environment we may rely on the results of Pflugrath et.
al’ study which indicates the code of ethics may end up affecting the professional judgment positively. Moreover, the respondents in Shafer et. al’s study had not graduated. Also, most of the respondents have almost 20 years experience in public accounting. People with similar personal values, as stated by the Shafer’s study may choose similar fields. Hence, the results produced are biased and rely upon the majority of people with similar values. Both journals provide a wide number of studies to support their arguments.
The supporting details of every argument belong to reliable sources and articles. The arguments in Shafer et. al’s survey, however, provide the insight of impacts of personal values in different fields. The conclusion is not as straightforward as in the research of Pflugrath et. al. The study of Shafer et. al. (2001) leaves enough space for the reader to judge if the personal values or organizational norm affect ethical judgments and decision makings of accountants and auditors.
Whereas, Pflugrath et. al.provide much evident information on the agreement and in support of auditors and accountants. Moreover, unlike Shafer et. al. ’s study, Pflugrath et. al included much research and literature in support of their conclusion rather than providing the contrary information.
Concisely, the journals under review provide a depth analysis of the two factors that may affect ethical judgment and decision making of accountant and auditors. The first factor is the presence or absence of codes of ethics and the second is the impact of personal values and norms in ethical decisions makings of professionals.
The dilemma of lack of ethical decision making which has abandoned the public confidence and trust is dependent on the codes of ethics which are being set and exercised within the business environment and the perceptions of moral intensity which affect the judgments of the auditors. There are other determinants, as discussed by the articles, like clients pressure and personal interest which may affect the quality of judgments and decision making in the fields of accounting and auditing but it is not right to ignore the 2 factors being discussed.
Ethical judgment, hence, depends on the exercise of codes of ethics which provide autonomy to the auditors and accountants to work in the best interest of the business and not at the discretion of the client’s orders. Moreover, such codes of ethics, if exercised appropriate may affect the values of auditors and accountants leading to the better and more independent of the financial data of the business under review.