ارتباط اجتماعی آموزش اصول اخلاقی در عصر جهانی (ising) : از معضلات فردی تا بحران های سیستمیک
|کد مقاله||سال انتشار||تعداد صفحات مقاله انگلیسی||ترجمه فارسی|
|288||2008||36 صفحه PDF||سفارش دهید|
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Publisher : Elsevier - Science Direct (الزویر - ساینس دایرکت)
Journal : Critical Perspectives on Accounting, Volume 19, Issue 2, February 2008, Pages 255–290
Ethics in accounting and business education must be considered in the contemporary context of neoliberal economic globalisation. Official responses to corporate scandals have included new laws and regulations, and some have argued that these scandals illustrate the need for change at an individual level, but this paper argues that the problem is manifested at a system level and that greater attention must be paid to the wider economic and social system within which individuals operate. Contemporary accounting education tends to treat ethics as an add-on component that itself may be justified in instrumental ways, such as a claim that it may enhance corporate profitability. In accounting and business education programs, case study scenarios utilising codes of ethics and ethical decision-making models are typically prominent in ethics components of accounting courses. This model of teaching is critiqued in this paper, and it is agued that it is necessary to transcend the individualised conception of ethics implicit in such approaches. Accounting and business educators have a special responsibility to examine ethics in the broader context of globalisation because it is at this level that many relevant ethical concerns arise. These concerns are directly connected to accounting education and practice. University academics (as intellectuals) should balance the humanistic/formative and vocational aspects of education. In relation both to developments in globalisation and the systemic crises of which accounting is a part, accounting educators should actively consider their positions in relation to the global hegemonic balance. As mediators in the intellectual realm, accounting educators can do more to make accounting education relevant to the lived experience of students, to the multifaceted global(ising) context in which we live, and to the capacities of graduates to act meaningfully in and on the world, individually and collectively.
In response to contemporary corporate collapses and associated accounting scandals, particular individuals have been popularly identified as the cause of the problems and new laws and regulations have been promulgated to alter the legal and accounting frameworks within which corporations operate. Despite a blaze of legislative and regulatory activity, little has been done to change the underlying substance of the economic system that rewards (and demands) the very acts that bring about corporate scandals. Indeed, it is often implied that there is no viable alternative to both the extant social system and the current neoliberal direction of that system; it is often argued that there is a need for further neoliberal economic changes as a result of globalisation. These contentions are critically considered in this paper. The significant influence of business activity on economic, social, cultural, and political life means that questions about how such activity should be conducted cannot be confined to the realm of economics. The ethical implications of business activity extend well beyond headline-grabbing corporate scandals that periodically, but generally temporarily, populate the media. A meaningful response to this situation from educators in a range of disciplinary areas therefore requires critical examination beyond the immediate surface manifestations of corporate collapses and associated scandals. The aims of the paper are to examine the broad question of ethics in accounting and business education in the contemporary context of globalisation, and to consider the role and functions of accounting education (and of accounting academics) in this context. Whilst one response to corporate scandals may see the need for change as focussed at the level of the individual economic agent, here it will be argued that greater attention must be paid to the wider economic and social systems within which individual (un)ethical actions occur, and that systemic features of globalisation, in conjunction with events at local, regional, and national levels, must be central to the analysis. It is argued that in order to fully address ethical concerns that have re-arisen in recent times, change at national and global system levels is necessary because reform attempts that are directed at individuals and corporate entities alone are largely futile. It has been argued that the nature of the corporate environment, structure, and control systems mean that corporate social responsibility may be difficult to achieve, but it is nevertheless necessary because the size and immense power and influence of corporations makes their apparently economic decisions also social decisions (Mintzberg, 1983, p. 12). But while the need for corporate social responsibility (and, by extension, business ethics) may be recognised, this must be placed against a situation where economic and market imperatives are closely associated with actions that themselves lead to corporate scandals and deleterious social, environmental, and ethical outcomes (for example, the imperative to drive costs down, increase profits, and continually ‘grow’ economic and business activity—see Catchpowle et al., 2004 and Tinker and Carter, 2003). Even advocates of market-based business activity recognise that ethical and ecologically sustainable business is not likely (and may not be possible) under current economic, social, and political arrangements, and that mega-corporations occupy a central place in a suite of problems that require deep structural change. Korten, 1998 and Korten, 2001, for example, advocates the abolition of the corporation as we know it1 (see also Hawken, 1993). His conclusion is partly based on a rejection of the notions that: (i) appeals to the conscience of corporate executives will generate more responsible corporate behaviour, and (ii) social and environmental responsibility should and will be pursued because it can result in increased corporate profits (Korten, 1999, p. 220–1). Going further, Hazelton and Cussen (2005) argue that the legal and market/business environment in which corporations operate means that, for all practical purposes, corporate social responsibility is impossible and that corporations (such as their continued existence is deemed useful) should therefore be regarded as amoral entities. Bakan (2004) also argues that in their pursuit of profit and power, corporations are pathological entities and they must be fundamentally reformed. A common thread underlying the arguments of Korten, Hazelton and Cussen, and Bakan is that unless and until the social and economic systems that produce perverse ‘market imperatives’ and ‘pathological institutions’ are addressed, the problems are likely to persist and grow. Without fundamental reform, suggestions that corporate social and environmental responsibility provide a solution are likely to have the effect of further legitimating extant structures and arrangements (Bakan, 2004, esp. Chapter 2). The analysis in the remainder of this paper is organised into four substantive sections, as follows. The first section considers the ethics of accounting for corporate legitimacy. A brief outline of recent corporate and associated accounting scandals is provided as a basis for considering how the accounting profession and accounting academics have responded to this state of affairs. It is argued that accounting and business educators must think beyond the disciplinary confines of their specialisation to see the crisis in accounting education (some aspects of which have been outlined by Albrecht and Sack (2000), for example) as a manifestation of wider business, social and economic crises. The second section considers how ethical issues are dealt with in contemporary accounting education, arguing that there is an urgent need to expand our thinking well beyond codes of ethics and ethical decision-making models that typically form the basis for considering ethics in accounting. The individualised conception of ethics that such approaches are predicated upon is problematised. The third section broadens the considerations of ethics in accounting and accounting education to consider the context of globalisation and its contradictions. This is necessary because current global developments and their local manifestations (or, indeed, the absence of positive local effects in many cases) provide the context for many ethical concerns in accounting. In addition, the interactions between accounting and globalisation themselves give rise to important ethical concerns. The intellectual role of academics, in light of a framework for thinking about the various dimensions of globalisation, is examined. The final section of the paper summarises the ethical implications of the paper for accounting educators. 2. The ethics of accounting for corporate legitimacy 2.1. Corporate misdeeds and accounting Scandals such as those involving Enron, WorldCom, Parmalat, OneTel, HIH, and a range of other prominent companies in the United States of America, Europe, and Australia bear similarity to scandals and collapses that have been a part of the corporate landscape for as long as the corporate form itself has existed (see Bakan, 2004, CCH Australia, 2001, Clarke et al., 2003, Leaf, 2002, Main, 2003, Sykes, 1996 and Sykes, 1998). Even though they only rarely come to light, the types of behaviours associated with corporate scandals and collapses are not atypical (Sykes, 1998), and are not merely an aberration of an otherwise well-functioning system (see Craig and Amernic, 2004 and Froud et al., 2004) or the result of a “perfect storm” (see Scully and Gentile, 2003; c.f. Reinstein and McMillan, 2004). The drive to meet (perceived) demands of the market is often a source of unethical practice. In order to prosper, businesses seek to ignore or externalise as many costs as possible, such that achievement of the greatest market success may also signal the highest externalised and unrecognised costs (Hawken, 1993). These consequences go well beyond the billions of dollars lost by investors, creditors, employees and others as a result of recent accounting scandals (see Rezaee, 2005). The larger and more powerful the entity, the greater is its capacity to ignore and externalise for the sake of profit generation. In a global context, multinational corporations are able to externalise costs to developing countries as well as to poorer regions of developed countries (the global South). The population of developed countries and wealthier regions (the global North) are unaware of the costs borne by others (see Jones, 1988, for striking examples). Accounting is centrally implicated in these matters not only because of its use, abuse, or general failings in relation to corporate scandals, but because it is accounting representations that set the competitive conditions for others to match if they are to survive economically (Tinker and Carter, 2003, p. 580). Capitalism relies on the extension of the “penetrating quantification” of accounting which is utilised to deepen commodification and subordinate almost all other factors to profit (and “shareholder value”) (Catchpowle et al., 2004 and Lazonick and O'Sullivan, 2000). The way we traditionally conceive of and account for ‘market imperatives’ is directly associated with a range of deleterious social and environmental outcomes including habitat destruction, social alienation and dislocation, human exploitation, and dispossession.2 Business systems remain largely blind to the social and environmental costs of corporate activity as these ethical spill-overs are ignored and masked by conventional accounting systems and their representations. Indeed, the idea of corporate social responsibility may well be oxymoronic within such systems, because the market demands and rewards social and environmental irresponsibility and punishes those who do not bend to this will (Korten, 2001, Chapter 15).
نتیجه گیری انگلیسی
We need to find ways to meld our personal choices with the micro, meso, and macro contexts within which we are situated, extending the personal to collective and social processes. Accounting educational and research praxis must extend beyond change ‘out there’ to include change to the ‘in here’ self-consciousness of actors, subjects, and their observers (Tinker and Gray, 2003, p. 751). The out-there and in-here are both needed. Critical activity in teaching and learning programs in accounting provides an arena where all academics can make a contribution and have a potential impact. Intellectual involvement with students is perhaps the most important activity to be undertaken by educators with a commitment to social change (see Freire, 1996, for example). In this domain, by starting from what is already known about the functioning of accounting, there is considerable scope for accounting academics, within the rubric of the current accounting curricular arrangements, to play a significant role in consciousness-raising (Boyce, 2004). They may thus provide the sort of intellectual mediation that facilitates the development of a society characterised by ethical behaviour and socially and environmentally sound practices.