Ethics training for accountants: does it add up?

Adriaan Taylor
  • Meditari Accountancy Research, November 2013, Emerald
  • DOI: 10.1108/medar-06-2012-0020

The effectiveness of ethics training for accounting students.

What is it about?

The audit failures at the start of this century placed a renewed focus on the ethical behaviour of accountants. Consequently, ethics training was included in the curriculum of aspiring accountants. The research that informed this article attempted to gauge the effectiveness of this response, given the current knowledge gap, specifically in the South African context.

Why is it important?

The results indicate that the business ethics course was indeed effective in increasing the ethical sensitivity of accounting students.Professional accounting bodies, associated higher education institutions and accounting firms could use the curriculum design presented in this study to implement a similar intervention. Such interventions could enhance the ethical behaviour of both prospective and current accountants, and this, in turn, should aid in lessening ethical crises, thus protecting the social stature of the accounting profession.


Mr Adriaan Taylor
Central University of Technology

This study indicated a statistically significant improvement in ethical sensitivity for accounting students exposed to a six month IFAC-aligned Business Ethics course. I therefore believe that the developed curriculum could be useful to develop similar courses. The results of the multivariate analysis between demographic characteristics and ethical sensitivity only indicated that accounting specialisation area and years of work experience, played a role in the extent of students' changes in ethical sensitivity. However I would like to see more research done on other demographical characteristics influence on ethical sensitivity as well as the other components of Rest’s four-component model.

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The following have contributed to this page: Mr Adriaan Taylor