Contrasting the Moral Reasoning Abilities of Private Sector and Federal Government Sector CPAs: An Empirical Investigation

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The purpose of this study is to determine if any differences exist in the moral reasoning abilities of CPAs who work in the private sector as compared to CPAs who work in the federal government sector. The interests in the ethics of CPAs in particular and accountants in general have catapulted in recent years due to high profile financial corruptions involving many top U.S. companies. This study explores the levels of moral reasoning abilities of federal government sector CPAs and private sector CPAs to determine if there any difference in the cognitive moral development between the subjects. Literature review was unable to find earlier studies that compared similar situated groups of CPAs. This study examined the extent to which institutional context influences moral reasoning. Kohlberg’s (1969) moral development theory serves as the foundation for the study and Rest’s (1979) Defining Issues Test-2 instrument measures the level of moral reasoning abilities of the participating groups. Results indicate that private sector CPAs have a lower P-score than government sector CPAs but are not statistically significant.


Keywords: Moral Reasoning, Ethics, Accounting Ethics, Moral Development, Private and Government CPA's Moral Reasoning
Stream: Economics and Management
Presentation Type: Virtual Presentation in English
Paper: Contrasting the Moral Reasoning Abilities of Private Sector and Federal Government Sector CPAs


Dr. H. Anthony Crossman

Doctoral Student, H. Wayne Huizenga School of Business and Entrepreneurship, Nova Southeastern University
Silver Spring, Maryland, USA

Mr. Crossman is a doctoral candidate at the Nova Southeastern University in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. He currently works for the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, and has been affiliated with the organization for the past twenty years in various management and accounting capacities. Mr. Crossman launched a small Caribbean restaurant, which he owned and operated until 2005. He has taught various college level accounting courses, including accounting principles, advance accounting, cost/management accounting, non-profit accounting, intermediate accounting, and personal finance. He currently serves as the financial advisor of a small investment club located in the Washington, D.C. area.

Dr. Tom Griffin

Professor of Decision Sciences, H. Wayne Huizenga School of Business, Nova Southeastern University
Ft Lauderdale, Fl, USA

Dr Griffin is a Professor of Decision Sciences at Nova Southeastern University. He has held numerous academic leadership positions including academic dean. He has extensive manufacturing management background and held positions as VP of Corporate Quality System and President. He has published in Quality Management Journal, International Journal of Production Research, Journal of
Managerial Issues, etc.

Dr. Qidong Cao

Professor of Quantitative Methods, Winthrop University
Rock Hill, South Carolina, USA

His research interests include mathematical modeling and computer simulation of production systems, statistical quality control, technology and human interaction, and supply chain management. He has published in such journals as International Journal of Production Research, International Journal of Flexible Manufacturing Systems, Quality Management Journal, Computers & Operations Research, European Journal of Operational Research, and others.

Ref: I08P0957