Date of Award

Summer 8-1-2017

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Human Capital Development


Interdisciplinary Studies and Professional Development

Committee Chair

Heather M. Annulis

Committee Chair Department

Human Capital Development

Committee Member 2

Cyndi H. Gaudet

Committee Member 2 Department

Human Capital Development

Committee Member 3

Dale L. Lunsford

Committee Member 3 Department

Human Capital Development

Committee Member 4

Quincy Brown

Committee Member 4 Department

Human Capital Development


Recent accounting and corporate scandals call into question the ethicality of accounting practice, likewise accounting graduates. Advances in ethical accounting education are not emphasized in today’s business schools leaving accounting graduates lacking necessary ethical accounting competencies to make ethical accounting decisions (Abend, 2013; Mastracchio, Jiménez-Angueira, & Toth, 2015; Waples, Antes, Murphy, Connelly, & Mumford, 2009).

Cognitive moral development theory (Kohlberg & Hersh, 1977), stakeholder theory (Freeman, 2004), and organizational mindfulness theory (Ray, Baker, & Plowman, 2011) provide a theoretical framework supporting issues of accounting graduates’ ethicality, practitioner in the role of ethical decision-maker, and organizational awareness and performance of business schools.

The purpose of this study is to determine practitioners’ perspectives of ethical accounting competencies required for making ethical accounting decisions. An additional purpose is to identify ethical accounting issues and behaviors experienced by practitioners. Finance and accounting practitioners, through qualitative interviews, provide professional perspectives relevant to ethical accounting practice topics to demonstrate practice-oriented understanding and knowledge of ethical accounting decision making. Interpretative phenomenological analysis was used to investigate ethical business experiences and interpret professional’s perceptions.

Practitioners recognize problems due to lack of trust within their organizations. Additionally, they provide experiences where amoral decision making resulted in inappropriate treatment of accounting standards and principles. Study practitioners identified six ethical accounting competencies useful in ethical decision making. These competencies and other strategies could be valuable to accounting educators in developing ethical accounting curriculum.