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The power of Australian small accounting firms’ unethical exposure

Zheng, Connie S. and Mirshekary, Soheila 2015, The power of Australian small accounting firms’ unethical exposure, Social responsibility journal, vol. 11, no. 3, pp. 467-481, doi: 10.1108/SRJ-02-2014-0018.

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Title The power of Australian small accounting firms’ unethical exposure
Author(s) Zheng, Connie S.ORCID iD for Zheng, Connie S. orcid.org/0000-0001-6152-1115
Mirshekary, Soheila
Journal name Social responsibility journal
Volume number 11
Issue number 3
Start page 467
End page 481
Total pages 15
Publisher Emerald Group Publishing
Place of publication Bingley, Eng.
Publication date 2015
ISSN 1747-1117
Keyword(s) Australia
Unethical behavior
Ethical policy
Exposure
Personal attitudes
Small accounting firms
Summary Purpose– The purpose of this paper is to investigate small business owner/manager’s exposure to unethical behavior, and to examine the influence of unethical exposure on organizational intention to implement ethical policies and practices.

Design/methodology/approach– Using a sample of 209 Australian small accounting firms with a path analysis, this paper adopts a modified ethical decision-making model to test the relationship between exposure and personal attitudes toward unethical behavior, and the relationship between exposure and intentions to implement ethical policies and practices at firm level.

Findings– The results show that increased exposure to unethical behavior triggered stronger personal attitudes with small accounting firm owners/managers tending toward accepting unethical behavior. In contrast, at the firm level, more exposure to unethical behavior creates cautious overtones and motivates owners/managers to take action and implement more ethical policies, with the underlying aim of addressing serious ethical issues.

Research limitations/implications– The study tests the ethical decision-making model but focuses only on three constructs (i.e. exposure, attitude and response). The aim is to examine whether extensive exposure to unethical behavior would change personal attitudes toward accepting such behavior, and whether unethical exposure would trigger firm owner/managers to take action and address the ethical dilemma by establishing some ethical guidelines. Other important variables (such as subjective norm, personal locus of control) embedded in the ethical decision-making model should be included in future research.

Practical implications–
The study draws attention to ethical dilemmas encountered by many small accounting professionals and their organizations. It addresses the importance of upholding the ethical standard and avoiding the extensive exposure to unethical behavior. It also emphasizes the needs for small businesses to establish some ethical policies and practices.

Originality/value– The paper is purposely set out to reduce the gap in studying how small accounting firms make decisions in implementing their ethical policies and practices to address the rampant ethical dilemma faced by their employees as a result of many corporate scandals and financial crises of the past decade. The results are particularly valuable for small accounting firm owners/managers. The findings also have educational and policy implications.
Language eng
DOI 10.1108/SRJ-02-2014-0018
Field of Research 150303 Corporate Governance and Stakeholder Engagement
Socio Economic Objective 910402 Management
HERDC Research category C1 Refereed article in a scholarly journal
ERA Research output type C Journal article
Copyright notice ©2015, Emerald Group Publishing
Free to Read? Yes
Persistent URL http://hdl.handle.net/10536/DRO/DU:30074559

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Every reasonable effort has been made to ensure that permission has been obtained for items included in DRO. If you believe that your rights have been infringed by this repository, please contact drosupport@deakin.edu.au.