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CPE session

    Ali Abdolmohammadi
    Ethics Boot Camp
    CPE session posted July 22, 2010 by Ali Abdolmohammadi, last edited April 18, 2012 by Judy Cothern 
    2867 Views, 24 Comments
    Ethics Boot Camp
    leader(s), affiliation(s):
    Presenters: Mohammad Abdolmohammadi, Bentley University; Janell Blazovich, University of St. Thomas – Minnesota; Jim Gaa, University of Alberta; Dawn Massey, Fairfield University; Murphy Smith, Texas A&M University; Bill Thomas, Baylor University; Joan Van Hise, Fairfield University
    session description:

    This CPE session focuses on practical ways to teach ethics to enable accounting educators to meet NASBA's call for 3 credits of ethics education for accounting graduates. Participants are introduced to the literature on ethics education in accounting and to the syllabi and methods used successfully by accounting educators to teach ethics.

    Session Time: 1:00--4:30 pm PDT

    July 31, 2010 4:00pm - 7:30pm


    • Robert E Jensen

      Can Ethics Be Taught?
       "Crazy Eddie Revisited: Old Lessons for Today's Accountants," by Anthony H. Catanach Jr., Grumpy Old Accountant, June 7, 2013 ---

    • Robert E Jensen
      Hi Marc,
      I'm not certain that there is a whole lot of benefit of a law versus ethics debate without first focusing on a law versus ideology debate ---


      Note especially Item 4 in the above link.

      All this points to another and related tension. This is the tension between the ideology view and the concept of the rule of law, the centrepiece of a liberal legal order. At their most basic, the terms the rule of law, due process, procedural justice, legal formality, procedural rationality, justice as regularity, all refer to the idea that law should meet certain procedural requirements so that the individual is enabled to obey it. These requirements center on the principle that the law be general, that it take the form of rules. Law by definition should be directed to more than a particular situation or individual; the rule of law also requires that law be relatively certain, clearly expressed, open, prospective and adequately publicised.

      Jensen Comment
      The question is where do ethics codes fit in between law's rules and ideology. Also at issue is how rule-like codes of ethics become become laws over time. Also at issue are sanctions. With rules of law there are procedural requirements for enforcing those rules. Ethics seems to fit more into a gray zone when rules of laws are not broken but morality standards (ideologies) have been violated.

      An interesting aspect of this thread would be examples where laws are not broken but ethics codes are violated. For example I don't think there are statutes dictating that a supervisor cannot date or have sexual relations with an employee being supervised. Many business firms and governmental agencies, however, consider this to be unethical and actually have rules against such behavior even if it is not illegal in the statutes.

      There are no statutes to my knowledge that college instructors cannot campaign for particular political candidates in their classrooms. However, the AAUP and most colleges consider this a breach of ethics in the classroom. Instructors can and have been suspended for such political activism in classrooms. But more often than not the instructor is simply advised not to campaign in the classroom. Further actions are taken if the instructor repeatedly and egregiously ignores the advice.

      The ideology in this case is that instructors should teach but not indoctrinate. Ethics codes become somewhat specific regarding what constitutes indoctrination. But the sanctions are often vague. Laws become even more specific what constitutes violation of law such as offering bribes or making physical threats. Such laws are enforceable to a point where the courts rather than the employer decides on the punishments. And the sentencing guidelines can be quite specific.

      Bob Jensen


    • Robert E Jensen

      "United Technologies Violates its own Ethical Standards," by Steven Mintz, Ethical Sage, June 24, 2013 ---

    • Robert E Jensen

      ""Ten Commandments" for Today's CFO," by Anthony H. Catanach Jr., Grumpy Old Accountants, September 17, 2013 ---

    • Robert E Jensen

      "How not to cut ethical corners as economic growth slows in emerging markets," by Sabine Vollmer, CGMA Magazine, October 10, 2013 ---

      Challenging economic conditions are increasing the risk of unethical practices in markets around the world, according to EY surveys in Asia-Pacific, Europe, Africa and the Middle East.

      After years of rapid growth, economies in Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa, known collectively as the BRICS, have slowed considerably, International Monetary Fund data show. The economic environment has also gotten more difficult in central and eastern Europe, the Middle East and North Africa.

      EY surveys found that many companies in these countries are under increased pressure to meet targets of their investors and owners. In countries where enforcement of anti-bribery and anti-corruption laws is less rigorous, survey respondents perceived a rise in unethical practices. The surveys involved 681 executives, senior managers and other employees at companies in eight Asia-Pacific countries and more than 3,000 board members, managers and their team members in 36 European, African and Middle Eastern countries.

      While regulatory efforts to tackle fraud and corruption seem to be improving in China, where only 9% of respondents said using bribery to win contracts is common practice in their industry, 79% of respondents in Indonesia reported widespread bribery and corruption.

      In South Korea, where investigations into alleged bribery are underway at state-owned enterprises, 86% of respondents said their companies have policies that are good in principle but do not work well in practice.

      In India, 74% of respondents reported increased pressure to deliver good financial performance in the next 12 months, and 54% of respondents said their companies often make their financial performance look better than reality.

      Respondents in Spain and Russia reported the highest incidence of misleading financial statements (61%).

      About half of all respondents in Malaysia (54%) said their companies are likely to take ethical short cuts to meet targets when economic times are tough, or double the Asia-Pacific average (27%).

      Local application is key

      “The majority of businesses surveyed have created or are in the process of creating policies and procedures to deal with fraud, bribery and corruption,” Chris Fordham, an EY managing partner for Asia-Pacific, observed in the introduction of one of the survey reports. “However, too often we see a disconnect in the local application of these policies and tools.”

      The Asia-Pacific findings echo results of the survey involving European, Middle Eastern, Indian and African companies, Fordham said.

      Big data technology. Seventy-eight per cent of the Asia-Pacific respondents agreed that tapping the large volumes of data companies generate and collect routinely to examine all company transactions would result in better fraud detection and more effective prevention of corruption, but only 53% do it. In several Asia-Pacific countries, including Malaysia and Indonesia, IT investments are still seen more as a burden than a tool.

      Whistleblower programmes. Eighty-one per cent of the Asia-Pacific respondents considered them useful, mainly because whistleblower programmes are easy to access and employees are willing to use them, but only 32% set them up. Concerns about potential retribution and lack of legal protection and confidentiality prevent implementation of whistleblower programmes. Thirty-four per cent of respondents in Europe, Africa and the Middle East said their companies had whistleblower programmes.

      Codes of conduct. About half of the respondents in Europe, Africa and the Middle East said their companies had anti-bribery codes of conducts with clear penalties for breaking them and that senior management was strongly committed to the codes of conduct. Forty-eight per cent said certain unethical practices, such as offering gifts or cash to win business or falsifying financial statements, are justified to help a business survive an economic downturn. In Asia-Pacific, 40% of respondents said their companies have anti-bribery codes of conduct, but only 34% include clear penalties and senior management at only 35% of companies were seen as strongly committed to compliance.

      How to better manage the risks

      Continued in article

      Bob Jensen's threads on professionalism and ethics ---

      Bob Jensen's threads on managerial accounting ---

    • Robert E Jensen
      • "Civility in Society is an Ethical Issue," by Steven Mintz, Ethics Sage, December 24, 2013 ---

        I recently read a piece by Ryan Ariel Simon on on December 19 that addresses the atmosphere on the campus of San Francisco State University. Having taught there for ten years, I was particularly interested in Ryan’s take on the reaction of the Jewish students to an event on campus that deals with the Israeli-Palestinian debate. The issue of civility is front and center in the piece so I decided to blog about it. Civility is an element of ethical behavior because it encompasses treating others the way we want to be treated – with respect and tolerance.

        Ryan writes…”Over the past month there has been, under the surface, a debate over what is acceptable in our campus discourse at San Francisco State University when it comes to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. This round of the debate was initiated when Arab and Muslim Ethnicities and Diasporas Initiative (AMED) along with the General Union of Palestine Students (GUPS) and other groups, held an event commemorating the establishment of a mural on Malcolm X Plaza honoring Palestinian American scholar Edward Said. Unfortunately, most of the debate has taken place online or outside of campus. This is an attempt to bring it home. The complaints for many in the Jewish community centered around the stencils distributed at the event stating, “My heroes have always killed colonizers,” allegedly followed by violent rhetoric directed toward Israelis by the GUPS president. While San Francisco Hillel worked to address our concerns soberly and measuredly, the debate swirled out of control when groups outside SFSU took it upon themselves to “protect” students without asking us why we were upset or what we needed for support. Charges of anti-Semitism and stifling academic freedom were thrown around, making our campus a battleground for hardliners fighting their own agendas. This is an attempt to bring civility and genuineness back to this debate.”

        My feeling is it doesn’t matter which side of the issue you come down on. Respectfulness is an ethical value and requires that we honestly and openly present both sides of an issue and one side should not demean the other. It does no good to incite those who hold a viewpoint different from our own. It doesn’t add qualitatively to the debate.

        Continued in article

    • Robert E Jensen

      "The Psychology of Trust in Life, Learning, and Love," by Maria Popova, Brain Pickings, February 3, 2014 ---

      Jensen Comment
      At a point where laws and internal controls hit their limits, ethics, culture, and trust take over. Nothing is perfect to a degree that trust will never be violated. Much of what we teach is how reduce such violations and how to deal with them when they happen. The problem is that so many people become hardened and street smart without consciences when they harm others financially and physically. It always amazes me how many violators have no remorse other than the remorse of having been caught. We can only hope that they have no great joy and contentment when they don't get caught.

      Long Video:  Inside Cornell --- Analyzing the words of psychopaths ---
      Thank you Dennis Huber for the heads up. This is one of the most interesting videos I have ever watched in my entire life.

    • Robert E Jensen

      Ex-IRS Ethics Office Lawyer Disbarred For … Ethics Violations ---

      Jensen Comment
      Her punishment sounds serious until you examine the IRS track record for hiring back fired employees.

      "Report: IRS hiring back problem employees," by Kevin G. Hall, McClatcheyDC, February 5, 2015 ---

      More than one in 10 former employees rehired by the Internal Revenue Services had left the agency with performance and conduct issues, a special inspector general’s report concluded.

      The report by the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration was actually released last Dec. 30 but its results were divulged Thursday by the new chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, Utah Republican Orrin Hatch.

      The IG’s report found that of the 7,000-plus former IRS employees hired back between January 2010 and September 2013, 824 of them had prior employment disciplinary issues. Of those 824, the inspector general said 141 had a prior tax issue and five of them were determined to have willfully failed to file a tax return.

      Continued in article

      Bob Jensen's Fraud Updates ---

    • Robert E Jensen

      What good is the study of ethics if it doesn't make us more ethical? It breaks down strictures and transports us to wild, unpredictable places.
      "Cheeseburger Ethics," by Eric Schwitzgebel, AEON, 2015 ---

      . . .

      What’s more, abstract doctrines lack specific content if they aren’t tacked down in a range of concrete examples. Consider the doctrine ‘treat everyone as moral equals who are worthy of respect’. What counts as adhering to this norm, and what constitutes a violation of it? Only when we understand how norms play out across examples do we really understand them. Living our norms, or trying to live them, forces a maximally concrete confrontation with examples. Does your ethical vision really require that you free the slaves on which your lifestyle crucially depends? Does it require giving away your salary and never again enjoying an expensive dessert? Does it require drinking the hemlock if your fellow citizens unjustly demand that you do so?

      Few professional ethicists really are cheeseburger ethicists, I think, when they stop to consider it. We do want our ethical reflections to improve us morally, a little bit. But here’s the catch: we aim only to become a little morally better. We cut ourselves slack when we look at others around us. We grade ourselves on a curve and aim for B+ rather than A. And at the same time, we excel at rationalisation and excuse-making – maybe more so, the more ethical theories we have ready to hand. So we end, on average, about where we began, behaving more or less the same as others of our social group.

      Continued in article


    • Robert E Jensen

      The Parable of the Talents
      SSRN, May 31, 2016


      Stephen M. Bainbridge University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) - School of Law


      On its surface, Jesus’ Parable of the Talents is a simple story with four key plot elements: (1) A master is leaving on a long trip and entrusts substantial assets to three servants to manage during his absence. (2) Two of the servants invested the assets profitably, earning substantial returns, but a third servant — frightened of his master’s reputation as a hard taskmaster — put the money away for safekeeping and failed even to earn interest on it. (3) The master returns and demands an accounting from the servants. (4) The two servants who invested wisely were rewarded, but the servant who failed to do so is punished.

      Neither the master nor any of the servants make any appeal to legal standards, but it seems improbable that there was no background set of rules against which the story plays out. To the legal mind, the Parable thus raises some interesting questions: What was the relationship between the master and the servant? What were the servants’ duties? How do the likely answers to those questions map to modern relations, such as those of principal and agent? Curiously, however, there are almost no detailed analyses of these questions in Anglo-American legal scholarship.

      This project seeks to fill that gap.