History of professional accounting ethics

Authored by: Diane H. Roberts

The Routledge Handbook of Accounting Ethics

Print publication date:  December  2020
Online publication date:  December  2020

Print ISBN: 9781138591967
eBook ISBN: 9780429490224
Adobe ISBN:


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This chapter discusses the historical background to contemporary accounting ethics. Ethics are a defining characteristic of a profession and a component of an occupation’s quest for professional status. Components of ethical development include promulgation of professional ethics codes; establishment of professional associations; governmental legislation and regulation; character versus scientific accounting technique as legitimating narratives; and corporate social responsibility reporting. Controversial ethical tenets discussed in the chapter are independence, advertising, fees, contingent fees, bidding, and commissions. Each new accounting fraud or scandal prompted a response to reassure stakeholders of accounting practitioners’ commitment to providing high quality services. Public accountants in both audit and tax practice were the first accountants to professionalize. Management accountants and other emerging credential-seeking subsets of accounting personnel followed suit with professionalization efforts.

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