a. Strengths of the analysis include the idea that talking about ethical issues is important,and that the analysis suggests avenues for improving ethics education. The weaknesses primarily cited by students included the “idealistic” nature of the discussion. Onecommon theme emerged, which is that frauds and unethical behavior occurred long before formal business school education. Students often cited this fact as anunaddressed weakness in Professor Waddock’s analysis. b. The average level of moral reasoning for the Danish auditors in the study was a p-scoreof 35.
48, which corresponds to a conventional level of moral reasoning. However,about 37 percent of auditors in the study were in the pre-conventional moral reasoninggroup. Auditors in the pre- conventional group are at moral level are characterized bythe phrases “doing what you are told” and “let’s make a deal”. Auditors in theconventional group are at a moral level characterized by the phrases “be considerate,nice, and kind; you’ll make friends”, and “everyone in society is obligated to and protected by the law”.
Only about a third of the sample in the study achieved the post-conventional moral reasoning level, which is characterized by the phrases “you are obligated by the arrangements that are agreed to by due process procedures” and“morality is defined by how rational and impartial people would ideally organizecooperation. ” Based on Kohlberg’s categories, this implies that many auditors in thesample will be heavily swayed by client preferences, and that regulatory pressure/compliance threats will be important in affecting auditors’ judgments.
c. The arguments in Paper 1 assume that ethics can be taught, and yet the evidence inPaper 2 suggests that many auditors who have received a business school educationare still operating at very low levels of moral reasoning. Therefore, students’expressed concerns about whether ethics can really be taught in formal business schoolsettings. Students’ discussion focused on issues including the quality and extent of exposure to ethics interventions as being important in determining whether they will be effective.
Students also commented on overall ethical climates at different auditfirms, and in different cultures (i. e. the Danish sample of auditors provided an avenueto discuss possible cross-cultural differences in ethical norms in a business setting). d. Students completing this project provided many examples of possible dilemmas. Common examples included concerns about client pressure on difficult accountingissues, independence issues, the relationship between tax and audit services, andinterpersonal dynamics (including age and gender issues, and concerns about how tohandle the inappropriate judgments of colleagues).
In terms of plans for handling thesituation, any reasonable plan was deemed appropriate for purposes of assigning points. However, plans that incorporated the ethical decision-making frameworksdescribed in the chapter were considered superior. Regarding anticipated outcomes,students expressed concerns about their own welfare (pay, performance, jobsatisfaction, and job retention), and they also discussed the effects on other stakeholders (clients, shareholders, bankers, and society in general).
University/College: University of California
Type of paper: Thesis/Dissertation Chapter
Date: 7 November 2016
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