Accounting, Organizations & Society
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.
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Shafer, W. E. (2008). Ethical climate in Chinese CPA firms. Accounting, Organizations & Society, 33(7), 825-835. doi: 10.1016/j.aos.2007.08.002