chapter  12
17 Pages

Accounting, ethics and organization: accounting for human rights in a post-sovereign world?

WithKen McPhail

Not so long ago the relationship between accounting, ethics and organization would probably have been construed primarily in terms of how to get accountants to comply with the codes of ethics of their professional organizations (Jakubowski et al., 2002; Abdulmohammadi and Baker, 2006; Cohen et al., 1992). Either that, or it would have been construed as the challenge to understand how organizational work contexts impact on the moral behaviour of accountants (Ponemon, 1990, 1992) and whether organizational position and culture affect the way accountants experience and respond to ethical dilemmas. Both of these perspectives on the moral implications of how accounting practice is or should be organized are important (Backof and Martin, 1991). The fact that accounting activity is organized as a professional practice is important and raises some significant questions about how we think about accounting, and whether indeed it is helpful to continue to represent accounting as an organization of professional expertise (Hauptman and Hill, 1991; Downie, 1990; Sikka et al., 1989; Willmott and Sikka, 1997; Parker, 1994; Loft et al., 2006; Hoarau, 1995). Attempts both by professional bodies and

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are vital. Understanding the impact of commercial organizational culture on professional accounting practice is also important (Sims and Brinkman, 2003; Schlachter, 1990). The financial crisis has highlighted again the importance of individual morality both for the longterm viability of organizations and the feasibility of political ideologies like the market economy, regardless of protestations to the contrary.