اقلیم اخلاقی در شرکت های CPA چینی
|کد مقاله||سال انتشار||تعداد صفحات مقاله انگلیسی||ترجمه فارسی|
|1602||2008||11 صفحه PDF||سفارش دهید|
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Publisher : Elsevier - Science Direct (الزویر - ساینس دایرکت)
Journal : Accounting, Organizations and Society, Volume 33, Issues 7–8, October–November 2008, Pages 825–835
Much concern has been expressed in recent years regarding the state of business ethics in the People’s Republic of China, and it has been suggested that unethical behavior is common both in the business community and in accounting firms. Despite such concerns, very little empirical research has been done on ethics in the Chinese public accounting profession, and no previous study has examined the ethical culture or climate in Chinese CPA firms. The current paper reports the results of a preliminary study of the ethical climate in local and international CPA firms operating in China, and the influence of ethical climate and personal ethical orientations on decision-making. Contrary to expectations, the perceived ethical climate in local firms was not more negative; however, auditors employed by local firms judged questionable actions as more ethical and indicated a higher likelihood of committing similar actions. Consistent with our hypotheses, perceptions of the ethical climate in one’s organization had a significant effect on intentions to commit ethically questionable acts. In addition, high relativists (who tend to reject broad moral principles in favor of situational analysis) were significantly influenced by the perceived organizational ethical climate, but low relativists were not similarly influenced.
China’s transition to a socialist market system and sustained economic growth have given it an increasingly prominent role in the global economy. The story of China’s rapid economic development is a familiar one, but this transition has brought with it increasing concern over the state of business ethics and morality in the PRC. Indeed, it is often suggested that unethical and irresponsible business practices are widespread in China (e.g., Hanafin, 2002, Lu and Enderle, 2006, Snell and Tseng, 2002 and Wang, 2003). The CPA profession in China has developed along with the country’s market economy, motivating chronicles of its progression and discussions of similarities and differences between the PRC profession and its Western counterparts (e.g., Cooper et al., 2002, Hao, 1999, Tang, 1999 and Tang, 2000). The public accounting profession was only re-established in China in the early 1980s in the wake of market reforms that began in 1978 (Hao, 1999 and Tang, 2000), and thus is still in its infancy relative to the profession in the West. Reflecting the more general concerns regarding the state of business ethics in China, concerns have also been voiced regarding ethical or moral standards in the accounting profession. For instance, Cooper et al. (2002, p. 387, emphasis added) argue that “During China’s economic reform, pursuing personal interests has become acceptable and in this transitional period, moral standards are not well established, and the Chinese accounting profession has been developing during this period of moral vacuum.” Similar concerns were expressed by Tang, 1999 and Tang, 2000. A practice review by the Ministry of Finance in 1998 seemed to confirm suspicions of widespread unethical practices in Chinese public accounting firms. As a result of this review, 344 CPA firms and 1441 branch offices of firms were closed down, 352 CPAs lost their licenses to practice, and thousands of CPAs were issued warnings for ethical breaches (Tang, 1999). Despite such evidence of unethical practices, very few studies in the accounting or auditing literature have examined Chinese auditors’ ethical decision processes, and no previous study has examined the ethical climate or culture in Chinese CPA firms. The few studies that have addressed ethical decision making in Chinese public accounting firms have focused primarily on auditors’ level of cognitive moral development (e.g., Tsui & Gul, 1996), reflecting a common concern of accounting ethics researchers over the last several years (e.g., Bernardi and Arnold, 1997, Bernardi and Arnold, 2004, Sweeney and Roberts, 1997, Windsor and Ashkanasy, 1995, Ponemon, 1992a and Ponemon, 1992b). Although individual characteristics such as cognitive moral development undoubtedly affect ethical decision making, arguably more emphasis should be given to the study of organizational influences. Indeed, most models of ethical decision making in organizations explicitly recognize the influence of organizational characteristics such as the ethical climate or culture (e.g., Hunt and Vitell, 1986 and Treviño, 1986), and discussions of the importance of ethical climate or culture often appear in the accounting practitioner literature (e.g., Castellano and Lightle, 2005, Gebler, 2006 and Waring, 2004). The current study is an initial attempt to investigate the ethical climate in Chinese CPA firms. Due to concerns regarding the state of business ethics in China, we sought to compare perceptions of the ethical climate and ethical decision processes in local and international auditing firms. To control for the effects of individual characteristics on ethical decision making and test their potential interaction with perceptions of the ethical climate, participants’ ethical orientations (idealism and relativism) were also assessed. The next section will briefly review relevant literature and develop the research hypotheses. We then discuss the research method and findings. The paper concludes with a discussion of the findings and suggestions for further research.
نتیجه گیری انگلیسی
This study provides a number of interesting findings relating to Chinese auditors’ ethical decision processes and raises a number of questions for future research. We found significant differences between local and international auditing firms in ethical judgments (overall and moral equity judgments) and behavioral intentions, with local firm auditors being more likely to judge aggressive actions as ethical and express intentions to commit similar actions. However, contrary to our hypothesis, the ethical climate in local PRC firms was not perceived as more negative. In fact, local firm auditors perceived a stronger benevolent/cosmopolitan climate in their firms. Given that the benevolent/cosmopolitan climate was associated with a lower likelihood of committing aggressive actions across both firm types, these results suggest that other factors associated with local firms more than offset the positive effect of the stronger benevolent/cosmopolitan climate. Our regression results indicate that ethical climate did not significantly affect overall or moral equity judgments. However, perceptions of an egoistic/local climate (one that places primary emphasis on the interests of the firm) had a highly significant effect on relativism judgments (judgments of what is traditionally or culturally acceptable). Not surprisingly, auditors who perceived a stronger egoistic/local climate in their firm were more likely to feel that questionable actions were acceptable. We also found that three of the four ethical climate factors had a significant effect on behavioral intentions. Auditors who perceived a stronger egoistic/local climate were more likely to express an intention to engage in ethically questionable actions, while perceptions of stronger benevolent/cosmopolitan and principle/cosmopolitan climates reduced the likelihood of such actions. Our findings also indicate that auditors’ personal ethical orientations (idealism and relativism) did not have significant main effects on ethical judgments or intentions. As hypothesized, however, ethical climate and relativism appear to have significant interactive effects on certain types of ethical judgments and on behavioral intentions. Specifically, the significant effect of the egoistic/local climate on relativism judgments was present only for high relativists. Similarly, the significant effects of the three ethical climate factors (egoistic/local, benevolent/cosmopolitan, principle/cosmopolitan) on behavioral intentions were present only for high relativists. These findings suggest that high relativists are more susceptible to influence from the perceived ethical climate in their organization. This study was a preliminary attempt to investigate the ethical climate in Chinese CPA firms, and the influence of the perceived ethical climate on auditors’ decision processes. Like all studies of this type, practical limitations forced us to concentrate on a limited number of factors. Due to the documented significance of ethical climate on auditors’ ethical decisions, future studies should expand on the current research. Studies could develop and test models of the antecedents and consequences of the perceived ethical climate in CPA firms. For instance, future studies could examine the effects of individual differences such as cognitive moral development, as well as the effects of broader considerations such as national culture on the perceived ethical climate in CPA firms. Future studies could also examine other behavioral consequences of climate perceptions. As previously mentioned, studies have found that perceptions of a negative ethical climate in one’s organization appear to reduce organizational commitment and job satisfaction (Martin & Cullen, 2006). This work could be extended to the context of public accounting firms. The interactive effects of other individual difference variables and ethical climate could also be examined. For instance, auditors with higher (lower) levels of cognitive moral development may be less (more) susceptible to the influence of the perceived ethical climate in their organization. Investigations such as these could provide a more comprehensive understanding of the role and influence of the organizational ethical climate in CPA firms. The issue of ethical climate in CPA firms also has practical implications. Our findings suggest that the perceived climate has a strong influence on professional auditors’ intentions to commit questionable or aggressive actions. To minimize the occurrence of such behaviors, public accounting firms could attempt to enhance the ethical climate or culture in the firm. Such efforts could start with internal research programs designed to assess the climate in the firm and identify areas for potential improvement. The climate or culture in a firm should be influenced by the “tone at the top”, so communicating and emphasizing the importance of adhering to professional ideals is likely to enhance the perceived organizational ethical climate. Because of the interest of international CPA firms in maintaining uniform standards of quality worldwide, the ethical climate in practice offices in various countries could also be assessed and compared for consistency.