The Relevance Of Accounting Ethics In Accounting Education
This study examines the relevance of accounting ethics in accounting education. The accounting profession is being threatened because of high expectations from the public and their beliefs that embezzlement, bribery and corruption have become prominent in our society including the accounting profession. The broad objective of the study is to find out the significant relationship between accounting ethics and accounting education and also to find out if the moral principles contained in accountant membership handbook influence members’ behavior positively. The survey research design is used in this study and a sample size of 50 was used which was chosen from the population of accountants working in accounting firms in Edo State. The chi-square statistical tool was used to test the stipulated hypotheses and the findings revealed that there is significant relationship between accounting ethics and accounting education and that the moral principles contained in accountant membership handbook influence members’ behavior positively. It is recommended amongst others that building a robust ethic infrastructure that is self-sustaining will go a long way in strengthening accounting education.
1.1 Background to the Study
The issue of what is right or wrong, particularly in relation to human conduct, behaviour and attitude is the focus of what is known as ethics: There are basically two ways to determine the meaning of ethics. Etymologically, ethics is derived from a Latin word that means customary. While ethics is derived from the Greek word which means customary behavuiour, moral and character (Inegbenebor, 2012). But the focal point of this work is to relate the word ethics to the accounting profession, and to carry out a form of appraisal on the performance of accountants as concern ethical behaviour, whether accountants actually complies or not, and to the extent of their compliance.
Historically, ethics actually was unconsciously practiced in the field of accounting right from the stewardship era of accounting (i.e. bookkeeping data), where owners of organization expect their bookkeeper(s) or steward(s) to be truthful, objective, honest and have courtesy in both recording and reporting of information that concerns the business and stewards at that time, to a large extent greatly complied (Anibaba, 2002). But with the advent of various professional bodies that now formally guide the accounting profession all over the world, a formulized ethical conduct is now established to guide the behaviour of professional accountant(s).
Walker (2010) noted that ethics in business is not just a slogan to please customers, it is also the tools to maximize profits and to strengthen the brand, because the reputations of firms which originally comes from their ethical behaviour, brings about higher customers recognition. In particular link to the accounting profession, ethical practices can be beneficial to all market participants and stakeholders which will lead to rise in investors’ confidence in the global capital markets. According to Smith (2003), ethics has always been a sensitive concept of any profession in society, especially for career that is closely associated with economic activities such as accounting. If there is no professional ethics, the quality of accounting services provided to the society will not measure up to its value, for accountants, the professional ethics are “intangible asset”
Clarke, Dean and Oliver (2003) noted that accounting ethics will always instill a public trust in the fairness of markets, allowing it to function efficiently. In fact, the accountant is also faced with many issues as relating to competition, outstanding figures, good financial statement, commissions etc. where the pressure of the accountant has always been time restriction and cost control. Each customer has different requirement and purpose on its financial condition. As a result, accountants can create the dilemmas of ethical issues when firms encounter financial problem.
1.2 Statement of Problem
The accounting profession is being threatened because of high expectations from the public and their beliefs that embezzlement, bribery and corruption as perverse our society include the accounting profession. However, the professional code of ethics provides for above the board conduct of an accountant if the accountant is not keeping to them it means the accounting profession will suffer so much in the near future, and this will come in form of shortage in patronage. Questions like do we really need the services of an accountant? Are accountant not part of this corrupt practice?
1.3 Objective of the Study
The objectives of the study are:
- To find out the significant relationship between accounting ethics and accounting education.
- To find out if the moral principles contained in accountant membership handbook influence members’ behavior positively.
- To ascertain the significant relationship between the code of ethics for accountants and audit practice in Nigeria.
1.4 Statements of Hypotheses
To establish the fact in regards to this study, the following hypotheses have been formulated:
- HO: There is no significant relationship between accounting ethics and accounting education.
- HI: There is significant relationship between accounting ethics and accounting education.
- HO: The moral principles contained in accountant membership handbook do not influence members’ behavour positively.
- HI: The moral principles contained in accountant membership handbook influence members’ behavior positively.
1.5 Significance of the Study
Thestudy of ethics will be of utmost significance to the following:
The study is economically relevant to companies, firms and industries that require the services of an accountant.
It will socialize other professional on the roles and functions of the accounting profession as well as enlighten them on the moral conduct of accountant and punishment melted out for misconduct.
This study will be a starting point for further research work.
1.6 Scope and Limitation of the Study
The scope of the study deals accounting ethics and accounting education. To be specific, the study did not cover all ramifications of ethics as relates accounting profession in Nigeria. Geographical region of the study is Edo State using a time frame of 5 years (2012 – 2016). A sample size of 50 was used. The researcher encounters some constrain which limited the scope of the study;
a) Availability of Research Material:
The research material available to the researcher is insufficient, thereby limiting the study
The time frame allocated to the study does not enhance wider coverage as the researcher has to combine other academic activities and examinations with the study.
c) Organizational Privacy:
Limited Access to the selected auditing firm makes it difficult to get all the necessary and required information concerning the activities.
1.7 Definition of Terms:
The American Accounting Association sees as systematic process of recording, classifying, interpreting, analyzing, communicating and summarizing the financial data of an organization to enable the user make decision.
It is something that is importance or significant in that situation or to a person.
It refers to the science of morals, that branch of philosophy which is concerned with human character and conduct, a system of morals, rules of behaviour, a treatise or morals. It is an adherence to once professional code.
Accounting ethics actually was unconsciously practice in the field of accounting right from the stewardship era of accounting (i.e. bookkeeping data), where owners of organization expect their bookkeeper(s) or steward(s) to be truthful, objective, honest and have courtesy in both recording and reporting of information that concerns the business and stewards at that time, to a large extent greatly complied.
It is an institution of learning that helps to build up an individual or to expand the knowledge of the people.
1.8 Organization of the Study
This research work is organized in five chapters, for easy understanding, as follows
- Chapter one is concern with the introduction, which consist of the (overview, of the study), historical background, statement of problem, objectives of the study, research hypotheses, significance of the study, scope and limitation of the study, definition of terms and historical background of the study.
- Chapter two highlights the theoretical framework on which the study is based, thus the review of related literature.
- Chapter three deals on the research design and methodology adopted in the study.
- Chapter four concentrate on the data collection and analysis and presentation of finding.
- Chapter five gives summary, conclusion, and recommendations made of the study
Summary, Conclusion and Recommendation
It is important to ascertain that the objective of this study was to ascertain relevance of accounting ethics to accounting education
In the preceding chapter, the relevant data collected for this study were presented, critically analyzed and appropriate interpretation given. In this chapter, certain recommendations made which in the opinion of the researcher will be of benefits in addressing the challenges of accounting ethics to accounting education
This study was on relevance of accounting ethics to accounting education. Three objectives were raised which included: To find out the significant relationship between accounting ethics and accounting education, to find out if the moral principles contained in accountant membership handbook influence members’ behavior positively, to ascertain the significant relationship between the code of ethics for accountants and audit practice in Nigeria. In line with these objectives, two research hypotheses were formulated and two null hypotheses were posited. The total population for the study is 200 staff of selected accounting firms in Edo state. The researcher used questionnaires as the instrument for the data collection. Descriptive Survey research design was adopted for this study. A total of 133 respondents made up administrative staff, human resource managers, accountants and auditors was used for the study. The data collected were presented in tables and analyzed using simple percentages and frequencies.
From literatures reviewed, this study concludes that the ethical conduct of accountants has been dented and has created a wrong image foe on this profession as a result of different unethical practices of high profile companies.
The paper further concludes that ethics education is a reckoning force with behaving ethically. From the above findings, it is also evident that if ethics is taught well as an independent course in the accounting curriculum, the future accountants are bound to have instilled in them, the required ethical culture. It was further observed that the relationship between ethics and the accounting profession is symbiotic; meaning that ethics is an integral part of accounting profession and the accounting profession is standing on the foundation of ethics. This is in line with the work of Langender and Rockness ( 1989) as cited in Shawver (2006), where they opined that ethics education should become more prevalent in accounting curriculum.
Therefore recommend that ethics in accounting should be made effective as a major course in Nigerian Universities, so as to enlighten and educate students on how to and how not to behave as accountants. This the study views as one potential remedy to address the professional ethical crises around the world. In the same vein, the paper suggests that there should be increased ethics education at both pre-qualifying and post-qualifying levels of the accounting profession
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