Teaching Ethics in the Accounting and Tax Curriculum Using Milgram's Agentic Shift Theory

46 Pages Posted: 8 Mar 2009

See all articles by Anthony H. Catanach

Anthony H. Catanach

Villanova University - School of Business; The American College

Shelley C. Rhoades-Catanach

Villanova University - School of Business

Date Written: March 7, 2009

Abstract

Forty-five years ago, psychologist Stanley Milgram conducted a series of famous experiments on obedience and authority that tested individuals' willingness to administer electric shocks to a test subject under the direction of an authority figure. This paper discusses how Milgram's work on human psychological tendencies can be used to address ethical issues in financial accounting and reporting, including accounting for income taxes. The teaching approach described relies on readings, videos, and five mini-cases to give students an appreciation for the role of organizational influences on ethical decision-making in today's accounting world. This teaching approach is innovative in its use of social psychological theories to address accounting ethical dilemmas, and its incorporation of contemporary international financial reporting standards and tax reporting issues into the ethics debate.

Keywords: Ethics, Financial Reporting, Tax

JEL Classification: A20, H29, M14, M41, M44, M49

Suggested Citation

Catanach, Anthony H. and Rhoades-Catanach, Shelley C., Teaching Ethics in the Accounting and Tax Curriculum Using Milgram's Agentic Shift Theory (March 7, 2009). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1355163 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1355163

Anthony H. Catanach (Contact Author)

Villanova University - School of Business ( email )

Dept. of Accountancy
Villanova, PA 19085
United States
610- 519-4825 (Phone)
610-519-5204 (Fax)

The American College ( email )

Bryn Mawr, PA 19010
United States

Shelley C. Rhoades-Catanach

Villanova University - School of Business ( email )

800 Lancaster Avenue
Villanova, PA 19085-1678
United States
610-519-4356 (Phone)
610-519-5204 (Fax)

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