The Impact of Ethics Education on Reporting Behavior

45 Pages Posted: 21 Jun 2004 Last revised: 6 Mar 2013

See all articles by Brian W. Mayhew

Brian W. Mayhew

University of Wisconsin - Madison - Department of Accounting and Information Systems

Pamela R. Murphy

Queen's University - Smith School of Business; Queen's University

Date Written: March 20, 2008

Abstract

We examine the impact of an ethics education program on reporting behavior using two groups of students: 4th year Masters of Accounting students who just completed a newly-instituted ethics education program, and 5th year students in the same program who did not receive the ethics program. In an experiment providing both the opportunity and motivation to misreport for more money, we design two social condition treatments – anonymity and public disclosure – to examine whether or to what extent ethical values are internalized by students. We find that when participants are anonymous, misreporting rates are nearly the same regardless of ethics program participation. However, when their reporting behavior is made public to the cohort, participants who completed the ethics program misreported at significantly lower rates than those who did not receive the ethics program. The results suggest that ethics education does not necessarily result in internalized ethical values, but it can impact ethical behavior.

Keywords: ethics education, anonymity, public disclosure, integration, ethical values

JEL Classification: M41, M43, M45

Suggested Citation

Mayhew, Brian W. and Murphy, Pamela R., The Impact of Ethics Education on Reporting Behavior (March 20, 2008). Journal of Business Ethics, pp. 397-416, 2009. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=557184 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.557184

Brian W. Mayhew

University of Wisconsin - Madison - Department of Accounting and Information Systems ( email )

School of Business
975 University Avenue
Madison, WI 53706
United States
608-262-2714 (Phone)
608-263-0477 (Fax)

Pamela R. Murphy (Contact Author)

Queen's University - Smith School of Business ( email )

Smith School of Business - Queen's University
143 Union Street
Kingston, Ontario K7L 3N6
Canada

Queen's University ( email )

Kingston, Ontario K7L 3N6
Canada
6135333260 (Phone)

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