AICPA Ethics Case

Analytical Model for Ethical Decisions

From Chapter 1 of your text, and adapted from Langanderfer and Rockness. Langanderfer was a professor of mine at UNC!

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Keeping it real…

Suppose that you are a student at a fairly decent liberal arts college.

A combination of parental pressure and your own anxiety about the future motivates you to major in accounting, because you have heard that the career opportunities are good.

You’re a decent student but you’re involved in a lot of different campus activities, so your time is tight.

You got through ACT-101 with a healthy dose of memorization, and you know accounting is a demanding major, but a few of your friends are doing it, so you figure you’ll get through it with a little help.

Ethics Case 1: Homework Overload

You like to bunch up your work so your free time is really free. Sometimes this means doing things at the last minute, but you usually pull it out.

Suppose that you discover, the night before your Chapter 10 accounting HW is due, that the problems are WAY more complicated than you thought, and it’s going to take way more time than you have to do a decent job.

One of your friends tends to get her work done ahead of time, so you text her about it and ask if she has any tips on getting it done. She says it was a bear and emails you her completed Excel template.


Model for Ethical Decisions

1. Determine the facts (who, what, where, when and how).

2. Identify the ethical issue and the stakeholders, i.e. those who will be affected by the decision.

3. Identify the values, principles or rights related to the situation.

4. Specify the alternative courses of action available.

5. Evaluate how well each alternative corresponds to the values, principles and rights identified in Step 3. (This may yield an obvious decision, or it may not.)

6. Determine the consequences of each course of action for each of the stakeholders identified in Step 2. (This usually increases clarity about the right decision.)

7. Make your decision and take any indicated action.


Ethics Case 2: Exam Day

Suppose that, in Case 1, you decided to “copy” (in some sense) your friend’s homework and did not get caught. No harm, no foul, right?

And when a similar dilemma arose again, you found a similar way out of it.

Now it’s exam day. You actually studied a LOT. Mostly the night before, but it was with your smart friend, and you’re feeling like you’ve got a decent shot at getting the journal entries right, et cetera, just like you managed to do in ACT-101.

Except that the exam is WAY harder than you thought and the questions don’t look like the ones you studied. You panic and draw a blank.

You have resources available that will ease the panic: Access to the internet, access to some of the HW files, line-of-sight to several computer screens around you, a cell phone in your pocket, a bathroom across the hall, and more.