About this paper

Appears in:
Pages: 5929-5935
Publication year: 2017
ISBN: 978-84-697-6957-7
ISSN: 2340-1095
doi: 10.21125/iceri.2017.1555

Conference name: 10th annual International Conference of Education, Research and Innovation
Dates: 16-18 November, 2017
Location: Seville, Spain

TRAINING ACCOUNTING STUDENTS TO ACT ETHICALLY: THE BALANCE BETWEEN ACADEMIC KNOWLEDGE AND SOFT SKILLS

A. Lucas, D. Dias

Universidade Europeia Laureate International Universities (PORTUGAL)
The Certified Public Accountant (CPA) has many responsibilities. They must respond to the Tax Authority for compliance with the tax obligations of their clients, and they are also responsible to their clients for the legal certification of their accounts. Ethics is an important soft skill in any profession, but it becomes, in these circumstances, extremely important.

To enter the CPA profession, one must be a member of the Order of the Certified Public Accountants (Ordem dos Contabilistas Certificados, in Portuguese). The conditions for the registration are appropriate academic degree, the frequency of a professional internship and a professional written exam made at the Professional Order (Estatuto da Ordem dos Contabilistas Certificados, 2015). Candidates must have at least an academic degree in an area related to accounting. The degree must have specific issues in its curricula, including ethics. Still, the professional written exam also evaluates ethical issues since 2009.

Ethical issues related with CPA profession have already been studied by authors like Finn, Chonko, & Hunt (1988), Fusco (1982) and Graber (1979). Those studies analyze mostly the nature and extent of ethical problems. It seems important to understand if academic knowledge that candidates must demonstrate leads to an effective soft skill.

The questions this study aims to respond are:
(1) How do the accounting degrees define ethical issues as a learning outcome?;
(2) Do current CPAs find ethics as an important skill in the profession?;
(3) Do CPAs that have entered the profession on or after 2009 consider themselves as having ethics as a soft skill?

This study aims to verify if the learning outcomes related to ethical issues are defined as an academic knowledge or as a soft skill; if current CPAs consider ethics as an important soft skill; and if knowledge about ethical issues imply that a CPA has ethics as a soft skill.
The methodological approach is a prior literature review about ethical issues in CPA profession, followed by two empirical studies that aim to answer to the research questions.

To accomplish the first research objective, the study analyzed the learning outcomes of the accounting degrees, seeking for those that indicate ethics as knowledge to obtain and those that indicate ethics as a soft skill to acquire. It is a research based on a database provided by the Agency for Assessment and Accreditation of Higher Education. To accomplish the second and third research objectives, we conducted an empirical study with the participation of CPAs, in which they were asked to fulfil a questionnaire. The survey took place from November 2016 to July 2017. From the 709 respondents, we used only 516 answers, because these were CPAs and the questionnaires were completely answered. The survey was applied in a training program to about 3,000 CPAs and through direct contact to about 2,000 CPAs in LinkedIn. The answer rate was about 14%.

We expect the findings to confirm two hypotheses. First, we expect to find a connection between accounting degrees learning outcomes about ethical issues mostly as a soft skill to acquire. Second, we expect to find a connection between the importance current CPAs give to the factor ethics and the self-evaluation on this topic of CPAs that have entered the profession on or after 2009.

The main contribution of this study is to better understand the relationship between academic knowledge of ethical issues and ethics as a soft skill.
@InProceedings{LUCAS2017TRA,
author = {Lucas, A. and Dias, D.},
title = {TRAINING ACCOUNTING STUDENTS TO ACT ETHICALLY: THE BALANCE BETWEEN ACADEMIC KNOWLEDGE AND SOFT SKILLS},
series = {10th annual International Conference of Education, Research and Innovation},
booktitle = {ICERI2017 Proceedings},
isbn = {978-84-697-6957-7},
issn = {2340-1095},
doi = {10.21125/iceri.2017.1555},
url = {http://dx.doi.org/10.21125/iceri.2017.1555},
publisher = {IATED},
location = {Seville, Spain},
month = {16-18 November, 2017},
year = {2017},
pages = {5929-5935}}
TY - CONF
AU - A. Lucas AU - D. Dias
TI - TRAINING ACCOUNTING STUDENTS TO ACT ETHICALLY: THE BALANCE BETWEEN ACADEMIC KNOWLEDGE AND SOFT SKILLS
SN - 978-84-697-6957-7/2340-1095
DO - 10.21125/iceri.2017.1555
PY - 2017
Y1 - 16-18 November, 2017
CI - Seville, Spain
JO - 10th annual International Conference of Education, Research and Innovation
JA - ICERI2017 Proceedings
SP - 5929
EP - 5935
ER -
A. Lucas, D. Dias (2017) TRAINING ACCOUNTING STUDENTS TO ACT ETHICALLY: THE BALANCE BETWEEN ACADEMIC KNOWLEDGE AND SOFT SKILLS, ICERI2017 Proceedings, pp. 5929-5935.
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