First Center to Study Accounting Ethics Opens

Article excerpt

The first center in the United States devoted to the study of ethics in the accounting profession launched its major programs this term at Binghamton University of the State University of New York.

"We're cosponsoring the first research conference in accounting ethics with Ernst & Young, we're developing unique training programs to foster the ethical reasoning skills practitioners need and we've just launched Research on Accounting Ethics, the first ethics journal in accounting," said Lawrence Poneman, director of the Center for the Study of Ethics and Behavior in Accounting (CEBA).

CEBA is needed, asserted Poneman, also an associate professor of accounting and Arthur Andersen Teaching Fellow at Binghamton University, because the "ethical core" of the accounting profession has come under close scrutiny in the wake of the explosion of litigation targeting accounting firms, the recession, the demise of Laventhol and Horwath, the savings and loan crisis and similar developments.

Misleading perceptions. To overcome the often misguided public perception of accountants' culpability in these developments, the profession is modifying and improving its ethical standards for practitioners and CPA firms. The increased emphasis on ethics has resulted in revised codes of professional conduct for auditors and management accountants as well as new internal and external auditing standards.

As businesses become more complex," Poneman said, "the likelihood of ethics, integrity and credibility problems grows. As a result, accounting professionals increasingly are expected to be not only technical experts but ethical experts as well."

But what does being an ethical expert mean in the real world? …