Improving Accounting Ethics: Extending the Theory of Planned Behavior to Include Moral Disengagement

Date
2020-08-06
Authors
Cieslewicz, Josh
Burton, Greg
Black, Erv
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Abstract
We extend the Theory of Planned Behavior (TPB) for ethics in the accounting workplace. Using a path modeling methodology, we find evidence that, for ethics, moral disengagement is an antecedent to the TPB predictors of attitude, subjective norms, and perceived behavioral control (PBC). Thus, to improve ethics, reducing moral disengagement is critical. We show that the TPB predictors mediate the influence moral disengagement has on ethical behavioral intentions. We find support for including both types of PBC (self-efficacy and locus of control) when modeling ethical behavior. We use four ethical scenarios and international data to test this model. We also evaluate potential positive influences on ethics in the workplace and find that recency of ethics training interacts with religiosity and activates it to reduce moral disengagement. We also find that principles-based ethics training enhances professionals' self-efficacy to behave ethically. Experience, including time as a member in a professional accounting organization, increases both locus of control and self-efficacy to behave ethically. These variables—recency of ethical training, religiosity, principles-based professional ethics training, and experience—influence parts of the core TPB model, which in turn lead to improved ethical behavioral intentions.
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Keywords
Accounting Ethics, Moral Disengagement, Theory Of Planned Behavior, Principles-Based Ethics Training
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