Ethical reasoning and the importance of ethics: a comparison of New Zealand and Chinese accounting students
Recent business scandals, such as Enron, have highlighted that ethical issues in accounting are not being dealt with properly by accountants and have raised questions about accountants’ appreciation of ethics as professionals. Many studies have examined the relationships between individuals’ demographic characteristics and their ethical reasoning to better understand the reasons for the presence of questionable practices in accounting. Previous studies have examined how the ethical reasoning level is influenced by nationality, gender and ethics education. However, results of these studies are mixed and criticisms exist. Based on an approach similar to that used by Tan and Chow (2009), this research surveys final-year undergraduate accounting students from two Chinese universities and two New Zealand universities and groups the participants into three groups: Chinese accounting students in China (CIC), Chinese overseas accounting students studying in New Zealand (COS) and New Zealand accounting students (NZL). Given the increased close relationship between China and New Zealand, this research aims to investigate how nationality, gender and education influence individuals’ ethical reasoning levels and how students from these two countries perceive the importance of ethics. This research contributes to the literature by investigating one unique group of students, COS, as they are influenced by their Chinese cultural background, but also influenced by the studying and living experience they received in New Zealand. The comparisons among these three groups provide more insight into the influences of nationality and education on individuals’ Ethical Reasoning (ER) levels and the Perceived Importance of Ethics (PIE). In addition, the institutional difference is also examined to find if there are any differences among Chinese universities.... [Show full abstract]
Keywordsethical reasoning; gender; nationality; ethics education; perceived importance of ethics; accounting students; China; New Zealand; business ethics
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