A Critical Analysis of the Accounting Industry’s Voluntary Code of Conduct

Journal of Business Ethics 59 (1-2):101-108 (2005)
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The public accounting industry's voluntary code of conduct in the United States is the American Institute of CPA's Code of Professional Conduct. Based on our analysis, we conclude that the accounting industry's current code is limited in its ability to serve the public interest in three respects. Specifically, the code is input-based, requires no third-party attestation of compliance with the code, and contains no public reporting process of code compliance/noncompliance at the accounting firm level. We propose that the accounting profession should reorient its largely input-based Code of Professional Conduct to include output-based performance measurements. We also conclude that third-party attestation of compliance with the profession's code would help to promote compliance. Finally, we maintain that the accounting industry should initiate a public reporting process at the individual accounting firm level. Such a requirement would add a degree of public accountability as to whether a firm complies or fails to comply with the industry's voluntary code of conduct.



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