Is it Shameful to Be an Accountant? GenMe Perception(s) of Accountants’ Ethics

Abacus, Forthcoming

Posted: 5 Dec 2015

See all articles by Ariela Caglio

Ariela Caglio

Bocconi University - Department of Accounting; SDA Bocconi

Mara Cameran

Bocconi University - Department of Accounting

Date Written: December 2, 2015

Abstract

The function that accountants fulfil in the economic system is dependent on their ability to maintain the perception of high ethical standards. Building on the idea that birth cohorts, otherwise known as generations, are a useful proxy for socio-cultural environment of different time periods, we focus on the so called “Gen Me”, i.e. students and young workers born in the 1980s and 1990s. In particular, combining the accounting with the business ethics literature, the purpose of our paper is to contribute to increased awareness of the GenMe perceptions of accountants, with a special attention to ethical aspects. We believe that the perceptions of this age group are particularly crucial for the future of the accounting profession as it is these young people who will either become professional accountants or the accountants’ future clients. Using an extensive database (1,794 questionnaires), results show that the impression of the accountant as a corrupt professional is not dominant in GenMe and seem to suggest the existence of a multifaceted perception of accountants’ ethics. Specifically, the factors that contribute to influencing GenMe perceptions of accountants’ ethics are the level of education, having attended an accounting course at the high-school level, gender and belonging to the accounting profession. Finally, our study indicates that there is room for improving public perceptions of accountants’ ethics through university courses in ethics, continuing-education programs and focused communication strategies by accounting firms and professional bodies.

Keywords: Accountants, Ethics, Accountants’ image, Public perceptions of accountants

JEL Classification: L84, L49, M49

Suggested Citation

Caglio, Ariela and Cameran, Mara, Is it Shameful to Be an Accountant? GenMe Perception(s) of Accountants’ Ethics (December 2, 2015). Abacus, Forthcoming, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2698252

Ariela Caglio

Bocconi University - Department of Accounting ( email )

Via Roentgen 1
Milan, 20136
Italy

SDA Bocconi ( email )

Via Bocconi 8
Milan, Milan 20136
Italy

Mara Cameran (Contact Author)

Bocconi University - Department of Accounting ( email )

Via Roentgen 1
Milan, 20136
Italy

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