Ethics in Accounting


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Ethics in Accounting

  1. 1. ETHICS IN ACCONTING ETHICS Ethics, sometimes known as philosophical ethics, ethical theory, moral theory, and moral philosophy, is a branch of philosophy that involves systematizing, defending and recommending concepts of right and wrong conduct, often addressing disputes of moral diversity. The term comes from the Greek word ethos, which means "character". The superfield within philosophy known as Axiology includes both ethics and Aesthetics and is unified by each sub-branch's concern with value. Philosophical ethics investigates what is the best way for humans to live, and what kinds of actions are right or wrong in particular circumstances. Ethics may be divided into four major areas of study: Meta-ethics, about the theoretical meaning and reference of moral propositions and how their truth values (if any) may be determined; Normative ethics, about the practical means of determining a moral course of action; Applied ethics draws upon ethical theory in order to ask what a person is obligated to do in some very specific situation, or within some particular domain of action (such as business); Descriptive ethics, also known as comparative ethics, is the study of people's beliefs about morality; Ethics seeks to resolve questions dealing with human morality—concepts such as good and evil, right and wrong, virtue and vice, justice and crime DEFINING ETHICS Richard Paul and Linda Elder of the Foundation for Critical Thinking define ethics as "a set of concepts and principles that guide us in determining what behavior helps or harms sentient creatures". The Cambridge Dictionary of Philosophy states that the word ethics is "commonly used interchangeably with 'morality' ... and sometimes it is used more narrowly to mean the moral principles of a particular tradition, group or individual." Paul and Elder state that, "most people confuse ethics with behaving in accordance with social conventions, religious beliefs and the law", and don't treat ethics as a stand-alone concept. Page 1
  2. 2. ETHICS IN ACCONTING HISTORY Luca Pacioli, here in a 1495 portrait by an unknown Renaissance artist, wrote on accounting ethics in 1494. Luca Pacioli, the "Father of Accounting", wrote on accounting ethics in his first book Summa de arithmetica, geometria, proportioni, et proportionalita, published in 1494.Ethical standards have since then been developed through government groups, professional organizations, and independent companies. These various groups have led accountants to follow several codes of ethics to perform their duties in a professional work environment. Accountants must follow the code of ethics set out by the professional body of which they are a member. United States accounting societies such as the Association of Government Accountants, Institute of Internal Auditors, and the National Association of Accountants all have codes of ethics, and many accountants are members of one or more of these societies. In 1887, the American Association of Public Accountants (AAPA) was created; it was the first step in developing professionalism in the United States accounting industry. By 1905, the AAPA's first ethical codes were formulated to educate its members. During its twentieth anniversary meeting in October 1907, ethics was a major topic of the conference among its members. As a result of discussions, a list of professional ethics was incorporated into the organization's bylaws. However, because membership to the organization was voluntary, the association could not require individuals to conform to the suggested behaviors.[10] Other accounting organizations, such as the Illinois Institute of Accountants, also pursued discussion on the importance of ethics for the field. The AAPA was renamed several times throughout its history, before becoming the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA) as its named today. The AICPA developed five divisions of ethical principles that its members should follow: "independence, integrity, and objectivity"; "competence and technical standards"; "responsibilities to clients"; "responsibilities to colleagues"; as well as "other responsibilities and practices". Each of these divisions provided guidelines on how a Certified Public Accountant (CPA) should act as a professional. Failure to comply with the guidelines could have caused an accountant to be barred from practicing. When developing the ethical principles, the AICPA also considered how the profession would be viewed by those outside of the accounting industry. Page 2
  3. 3. ETHICS IN ACCONTING THE CONCEPT OF ETHICS The definition of ethics is shaped by personal, societal and professional values, all of which are difficult to specify. Some stress the importance of society‘s interests and others stress the interests of the individual. These conflicting viewpoints have dominated the discussion of ethics for a long time and may remain in the future as well. Thus, the term ‗ethics‘ will have to be defined in this context. The word ‗ethics‘ is derived from the Greek word ‗ethos‘ (character) and Latin word ‗moras‘ (customs). Taken together these two words define how individuals choose to interact with one another. Thus, ethics is about choices. It signifies how people act in order to make the ‗right‘ choice and produce ‗good‘ behaviour. It encompasses the examination of principles, values and norms, the consideration of available choices to make the right decision and the strength of character to act in accordance with the decision. Hence, ethics, as a practical discipline, demands the acquisition of moral knowledge and the skills to properly apply such knowledge to the problems of daily life. IMPORTANCE OF ETHICS The nature of the work carried out by accountants and auditors requires a high level of ethics. Shareholders, potential shareholders, and other users of the financial statements rely heavily on the yearly financial statements of a company as they can use this information to make an informed decision about investment. They rely on the opinion of the accountants who prepared the statements, as well as the auditors that verified it, to present a true and fair view of the company. Knowledge of ethics can help accountants and auditors to overcome ethical dilemmas, allowing for the right choice that, although it may not benefit the company, will benefit the public who relies on the accountant/auditor's reporting. Most countries have differing focuses on enforcing accounting laws. In Germany, accounting legislation is governed by "tax law"; in Sweden, by "accounting law"; and in the United Kingdom, by the "company law". In addition, countries have their own organizations which regulate accounting. For example, Sweden has the Bokföringsnämden (BFN - Accounting Standards Board), Spain the Institute de Comtabilidad y Auditoria de Cuentas (ICAC), and the United States the Financial Accounting Standards Board (FASB). Page 3
  4. 4. ETHICS IN ACCONTING PHILOSOPHICAL THEORIES OF ETHICS Decision making based on intuition or personal feeling does not always lead to the right course of action. Therefore, ethical decision making requires a criterion to ensure good judgment. The philosophical theories of ethics provide different and distinct criteria for good, right or moral judgment. Three prominent philosophical theories of ethics are utilitarianism, rights and justice. They are normative theories of ethics, which provide a principle or standard on how a person ought to behave towards others by considering the right and wrong of an action. These normative theories are divided into two broad classifications, consequential and non-consequential. Consequential theories define ‗good‘ in terms of its consequences, and a best known example is theory of utilitarianism. In contrast, non-consequential theories define ‗good‘ not by its consequences but by its intrinsic value and the best known examples are the rights and justice theories. These theories are described below. (a) The theory of utilitarianism According to this theory, the ethical alternative is the one that maximises good consequences over bad consequences. Jeremy Bentham, who is considered as the father of utilitarian ethics, defines utilitarianism as the greatest happiness principle (the principle of utility), which measures good and bad consequences in terms of happiness and pain. He wrote as follows in his book ‗An Introduction to the Principles of Morals and Legislation‘: "Nature has placed mankind under the governance of two sovereign masters, pain and pleasure. It is for them alone to point out what we ought to do, as well as to determine what we shall do. On the one hand the standard of right and wrong, chain of causes and effects, are fastened to their throne. They govern us in all we do, in all we say, in all we think." The terms ‗happiness‘ and ‗pain‘ have broad meaning and encompass all aspects of human welfare, including pleasure and sadness, health and sickness, satisfaction and disappointment, positive and negative emotions, achievement and failure and knowledge and ignorance. Applying the utilitarian principle is a procedural process involving five steps: (1) Define the problem; (2)Identify the stakeholders affected by the problem; (3) List the alternative courses of action for resolving the problem; Page 4
  5. 5. ETHICS IN ACCONTING (4) Identify and calculate the short- and long- term costs and benefits (pain and happiness) for each alternative course of action and (5) Select the course of action that yields greatest sum of benefits over costs for the greatest number of people. Thus, ethical conduct by accountants based on this theory leads to consideration of all possible consequences of a decision for all parties affected by it. This theory takes a pragmatic and common sense approach to ethics. Actions are right to the extent that they benefit people (i.e. actions, which produce more benefit than harm are right and those that do not are wrong). Thus, the cognitive process required for utilitarian decision making appears similar to the cost-benefit analysis that is normally applied in business decisions. However, there are important distinctions between the two concepts in relation to the nature of consequences, the measurability of the consequences and stakeholder analysis. (b) The theory of rights The theory of rights stems from the belief that people have an inherent worth as human beings that must be respected. Therefore, according to this theory, a good decision is one that respects the rights of others. Conversely, a decision is wrong to the extent that it violates another person‘s rights. In general, the rights can be divided into two categories: (1) natural rights (rights that exist independently of any legal structure) and (2) Legal rights and contractual rights (rights that are created by social agreement). The natural rights are commonly known as human rights or constitutional rights. Among many natural rights, the right to the truth is important to the function of accounting. The users of financial statements have the right to truthful and accurate financial information when making choices on alternative investment strategies. This right imposes a moral obligation on the accountant and the reporting entity to prepare and issue, true and fair financial statements. On the other hand, legal and contractual rights are important in the accountant-employer and the accountant-client relationships. These contractual relationships mean that employers and clients have a legal right to expect professional and competent service from the accountants. In turn, the accountants have a corresponding legal duty to perform their tasks to the best of their ability within the constraints of their expertise. (c) The theory of justice Understanding this theory requires understanding various notions of justice. Generally, justice is described as fairness, which refers to the correlation between contribution and reward. However, fairness alone cannot define the term justice. There are also other forms of justice, which include Page 5
  6. 6. ETHICS IN ACCONTING equality (assumes that all people have equal worth), procedural justice (concerns with due process) and compensatory justice (addressed the loss from a wrongful act). However, a comprehensive theory incorporating these various domains of justice has yet to be developed. Thus, the focus of this paper is on the theory of justice, which is based on the principle of distributive justice. It focuses on how fairly one‘s decisions distribute benefits and burdens among members of the group. Unjust distribution of benefits and burdens is an unjust act and an unjust act is a morally wrong act. Hence, under this theory, an ethical decision is one that produces the fairest overall distribution of benefits and burdens. Teaching ethics Universities began teaching business ethics in the 1980s. Courses on this subject have grown significantly in the last couple of decades. Teaching accountants about ethics can involve role playing, lectures, case studies, guest lectures, as well as other mediums. Recent studies indicate that nearly all accounting textbooks touch on ethics in some way. In 1993, the first United States center that focused on the study of ethics in the accounting profession opened at State University of New York at Binghamton. Starting in 1999, several U.S. states began requiring ethics classes prior to taking the CPA exam. Seven goals of accounting ethics education Relate accounting education to moral issues. Recognize issues in accounting that have ethical implications. Develop "a sense of moral obligation" or responsibility. Develop the abilities needed to deal with ethical conflicts or dilemmas. Learn to deal with the uncertainties of the accounting profession. "Set the stage for" a change in ethical behavior. Appreciate and understand the history and composition of all aspects of accounting ethics and their relationship to the general field of ethics. In 1988, Stephen E. Loeb proposed that accounting ethics education should include seven goals (adapted from a list by Daniel Callahan). To implement these goals, he pointed out that accounting ethics could be taught throughout accounting curriculum or in an individual class tailored to the subject. Requiring it be taught throughout the curriculum would necessitate all accounting teachers to have knowledge on the subject (which may require training). A single course has issues as to where to include the course in a student's education (for example, before preliminary accounting classes or near the end of a student's degree requirements), whether there is enough material to cover in a semester class, and whether most universities have room in a four-year curriculum for a single class on the subject. Page 6
  7. 7. ETHICS IN ACCONTING ACCOUNTING Accounting, or accountancy, is the measurement, processing and communication of financial information about economic entities. Accounting, which has been called the "language of business", measures the results of an organization's economic activities and conveys this information to a variety of users including investors, creditors, management, and regulators. Practitioners of accounting are known as accountants. Accounting can be divided into several fields including financial accounting, management accounting, auditing, and tax accounting. Financial accounting focuses on the reporting of an organization's financial information, including the preparation of financial statements, to external users of the information, such as investors, regulators and suppliers; and management accounting focuses on the measurement, analysis and reporting of information for internal use by management. The recording of financial transactions, so that summaries of the financials may be presented in financial reports, is known as bookkeeping, of which double-entry bookkeeping is the most common system. TYPES: Financial accounting Financial accounting focuses on the reporting of an organization's financial information to external users of the information, such as investors, regulators and suppliers. It measures and records business transactions and prepares financial statements for the external users in accordance with generally accepted accounting principles (GAAP). GAAP, in turn, arises from the wide agreement between accounting theory and practice, and change over time to meet the needs of decision-makers. Financial accounting produces past-oriented reports—for example the financial statements prepared in 2006 reports on performance in 2005—on an annual or quarterly basis, generally about the organization as a whole. Management accounting Management accounting focuses on the measurement, analysis and reporting of information that can help managers in making decisions to fulfil the goals of an organization. In management accounting, internal measures and reports are based on cost-benefit analysis, and are not required to follow GAAP. Management accounting produces future-oriented reports—for example the budget for 2006 is prepared in 2005—and the time span of reports varies widely. Such reports may include both financial and nonfinancial information, and may, for example, focus on specific products and departments. Page 7
  8. 8. ETHICS IN ACCONTING ACCOUNTING ETHICS "Accountants and the accountancy profession exist as a means of public service; the distinction which separates a profession from a mere means of livelihood is that the profession is accountable to standards of the public interest, and beyond the compensation paid by clients." —Robert H. Montgomery Accounting ethics is primarily a field of applied ethics, the study of moral values and judgments as they apply to accountancy. It is an example of professional ethics. Accounting ethics were first introduced by Luca Pacioli, and later expanded by government groups, professional organizations, and independent companies. Ethics are taught in accounting courses at higher education institutions as well as by companies training accountants and auditors. Due to range of accounting services and recent corporate collapses, attention has been drawn to ethical standards accepted within the accounting profession. These collapses have resulted in a widespread disregard for the reputation of the accounting profession.[3] To combat the criticism and prevent fraudulent accounting, various accounting organizations and governments have developed regulations and remedies for improved ethics among the accounting profession. ACCOUNTING SCANDALS Accounting ethics has been deemed difficult to control as accountants and auditors must consider the interest of the public (which relies on the information gathered in audits) while ensuring that they remained employed by the company they are auditing. They must consider how to best apply accounting standards even when faced with issues that could cause a company to face a significant loss or even be discontinued. Due to several accounting scandals within the profession, critics of accountants have stated that when asked by a client "what does two plus two equal?" the accountant would be likely to respond "what would you like it to be?". This thought process along with other criticisms of the profession's issues with conflict of interest, have led to various increased standards of professionalism while stressing ethics in the work environment. The role of accountants is critical to society. Accountants serve as financial reporters and intermediaries in the capital markets and owe their primary obligation to the public interest. The information they provide is crucial in aiding managers, investors and others in making critical economic decisions. Accordingly, ethical improprieties by accountants can be detrimental to society, resulting in distrust by the public and disruption of efficient capital market operations. "Every company in the country is fiddling its profits. Every set of published accounts is based on books which have been gently cooked or completely roasted. The figures which are fed twice a Page 8
  9. 9. ETHICS IN ACCONTING year to the investing public have all been changed in order to protect the guilty. It is the biggest con trick since the Trojan horse. ... In fact this deception is all in perfectly good taste. It is totally legitimate. It is creative accounting." THE ROLE OF ETHICS IN ACCOUNTING Samanthi Senaratne is Professor in Accounting and the present Head of the Department of Accounting at the University of Sri Jayewardenepura. She holds a Bachelors Degree in Accounting with a first class, an MBA and a PhD specialising in finance. She is prolific researcher and has published widely in the areas of corporate governance, corporate social responsibility reporting and accounting education. She engages in teaching in the areas of financial reporting and accounting theory at both undergraduate and postgraduate levels. Ethics and professional practice It is extremely important for accounting professionals to be ethical in their practices due to the very nature of their profession. The nature of accountants‘ work puts them in a special position of trust in relation to their clients, employers and general public, who rely on their professional judgment and guidance in making decisions. These decisions in turn affect the resource allocation process of an economy. The accountants are relied upon because of their professional statues and ethical standards. Thus, the key to maintaining confidence of clients and the public is professional and ethical conduct Ensuring highest ethical standards is important to a ‗public accountant‘ (one who renders professional services such as assurance and taxation service to clients for a fee) as well as to an ‗accountant in business‘ (one who is employed in a private or public sector organisation for a salary). Both ‗public accountants‘ and ‗accountants in business‘ are in a fiduciary relationship, former with the client and latter with the employer. In such a relationship, they have the responsibility to ensure that their duties are performed in conformity with the ethical values of honesty, integrity, objectivity, due care, confidentiality, and the commitment to the public interest before one‘s own The ‗Framework for International Education Standards for Professional Accountants‘ (2009) published by International Accounting Education Standards Board (IAESB) of IFAC identifies that the overall objective of accounting education should be to develop competent professional accountants, who possess the necessary (a) professional knowledge, (b) professional skills, and (c) professional values, ethics, and attitudes. In this respect, the International Education Standard (IES) 4 - Professional Values, Ethics and Attitudes of IAESB recommends that a programme of professional accounting education should provide potential professional accountants with a framework of professional values, ethics and attitudes to exercise professional judgment and act in an ethical manner that is in the best interest of society and the profession. Page 9
  10. 10. ETHICS IN ACCONTING NEED OF ETHICS IN ACCOUNTING Accountants are given access to private information and therefore the nature of your job means that people expect you to be highly trustworthy, says Sally. With companies and clients investing more than just their trust in accountants, it is important that you have a strong sense of ethics beyond the basic wrong versus rights. Page 10
  11. 11. ETHICS IN ACCONTING BETTY VINSON, CYNTHIA COOPER, AND MORAL COURAGE: A CASE STUDY IN ACCOUNTING ETHICS AT WORLDCOM David Christensen, Jeff Barnes, and David Rees Southern Utah University Introduction On 21 July 2002 the second largest telecommunications company in the U.S., WorldCom, Inc., applied for bankruptcy protection. WorldCom failed because of the bad business decisions of its executives to manipulate earnings with improper accounting entries. The key executives involved in the fraud were CEO Bernard Ebbers and CFO Scott Sullivan. The accountants who were pressured by Ebbers and Sullivan to prepare improper accounting entries included Director of General Accounting Bufford Yates, Controller David Meyers, Director of Legal Entity Accounting Troy Norman, and Director of Management Reporting Betty Vinson. Each was convicted of securities fraud and received federal jail sentences, including billionaire Bernie Ebbers who received a 25-year sentence in federal prison.1 Betty Vinson received a 5-month jail sentence. Another key player in this sad story of greed and conflicting loyalties is Vice President of Internal Audit Cynthia Cooper, a whistleblower who with two other internal auditors, Gene Morse and Glyn Smith, doggedly investigated and revealed the fraud to WorldCom‘s audit committee. In this case study you will read about the ethical pressure faced by Betty Vinson and Cythia Cooper as they each balanced conflicting loyalties between family, employer, and profession. Betty first balked then caved to the pressure and ruined her career; Cynthia did not cave and was named one of three ―Persons of the Year‖ by Time Magazine in 2002 for her moral courage at WorldCom (Lacayo and Ripley 2002). PART 1 - ACCOUNTING FRAUD AT WORLDCOM PART 2 - WHISTLE BLOWERS AT WORLDCOM PART 3 – MORAL COURAGE AND FIRST PRINCIPLES Moral courage is the courage to be moral – to act with fairness, respect, responsibility, honesty and compassion even when the risks of doing so are substantial. R. Kidder (2005) indicates that ―moral courage does not back us fearfully into dangerous corners so much as draw us inexorably Page 11
  12. 12. ETHICS IN ACCONTING toward first principles. Done right, it is less about hazards and obstacles than about virtues, standards, and rightness – the courage to be moral.‖ Page 12
  13. 13. ETHICS IN ACCONTING What Can Result from Poor Ethics in Accounting? Many negative consequences can result from poor ethics in accounting practices. The first result is generally a lag in business. Accounting firms rely heavily on word-of-mouth for promotion, and it's all too easy for a few bad stories about unethical behavior to sway prospective clients away from a particular firm. There can also be serious legal repercussions for those who are found to be violating legal codes and standards for their jurisdiction What Can I Do to Be an Ethical Accountant? To begin with, study your area's legal statutes regarding accounting practices. While it is true that what is legal and what is ethical can be two different things, the legal code is a good basic guide to help you understand the prevailing feeling towards what is right. Likewise, make sure that you always put the interests of your clients ahead of your own, that you safeguard client information doggedly and never behave in a fashion that you know to be wrong while handling accounting work. Why are Ethics Important in Accounting? Proper ethics and ethical behavior are extremely important in accounting for a variety of reasons. To begin with, accountants are often privy to sensitive information regarding their clients, such as Social Security or bank account numbers. This gives accountants a good deal of power in regard to their clients and it is important that the trust between an accountant and their clients not be abused. In the same way it is important that the industry itself does not become stigmatized as an unethical one, something that could potentially harm business for all accounting firms. Ethical Issues Facing Accountants The collapse of Enron resulted in black marks against the accounting profession and several reforms to change accounting standards. It is hoped that these changes will eliminate such unethical procedures as making the company's shares financially more viable, but establishing no gain to shareholders and creditors. Responsibility The task of accounting is to state the truth about an organization's financial condition and provide the conditions of trust required by a market economy. The American Institute of Certified Public Accountants has established ethical guidelines and rules of conduct that are to be followed by its members. This Code of Professional Conduct is applicable not only to accountants but to financial professionals. A part of the code stresses the profession's ultimate responsibility to its public, which includes shareholders, clients, creditors, the business community, governments, and employers who are involved with commerce. Page 13
  14. 14. ETHICS IN ACCONTING Interests One of the reasons that Enron and similar events occurred is that the accounting firms placed too much importance on the corporate interests and not enough on the investors' interests. The accountants cooperated with the company's management team, which led to "cookie-cutter" rather than principle-founded accounting practices, such as depreciation and inventory procedures. Investigations Because there can be such leeway with financial statements, accountants must act as "security guards" and be able to resist their own desire for personal gain. There are many cases where financial transactions continue to be inaccurately stated, such as essential figures left out of statements and debits listed on the ledger's credit side or not listed at all. Accountants need to be sleuths and find such errors and then tell the truth about them. Oversight Board Although the accounting profession has overall been recognized for its excellent work, such instances as Enron tarnish the whole field. The Public Company Accounting Oversight Board (PCAOB) was created to develop auditing standards with ethics rules and quality control for accounting firms. Hiring Practices Accounting firms must set high criteria in hiring and training practices of new personnel, especially courses on ethics and professional responsibility. In the past not enough emphasis had been placed on ethics issues. In addition to checking a candidate's references, the accounting employer needs to clearly discuss the importance of ethics in job interviews. Larger accounting firms may want to consider having one person who specifically oversees ethics and accountability. Nearly all states require that certified public accountants must take continuing education courses to keep their licenses, yet only a handful of states mandate ethics training. Ethics and professionalism One of the elements that many believe distinguishes a profession from other occupations is the acceptance by its members of a responsibility for the interests of those it serves. A high standard of ethical behavior is expected of those engaged in a profession. These standards often are articulated in a code of ethics. For example, law and medicine are professions that have their own codes of professional ethics. These codes provide guidance and rules to members in the performance of their professional responsibilities. Page 14
  15. 15. ETHICS IN ACCONTING Public accounting has achieved widespread recognition as a profession. The AICPA, the national organization of professional certified public accountants, has its own Code of Professional Conduct which prescribes the ethical conduct members should strive to achieve. Similarly, the Institute of Management Accountants (IMA) the primary national organization of accountants working in industry and government has its own code of ethics, as does the Institute of Internal Auditors the national organization of accountants providing internal auditing services for their own organizations. Page 15
  16. 16. ETHICS IN ACCONTING ANALYTICAL MODEL FOR ETHICAL DECISIONS Ethical codes are informative and helpful. However, the motivation to behave ethically must come from within oneself and not just from the fear of penalties for violating professional codes. Presented below is a sequence of steps that provide a framework for analyzing ethical issues. These steps can help you apply your own sense of right and wrong to ethical dilemmas Step 1. Determine the facts of the situation. This involves determining the who, what, where, when, and how. Step 2. Identify the ethical issue and the stakeholders. Stakeholders may include shareholders, creditors, management, employees, and the community. Step 3. Identify the values related to the situation. For example, in some situations confidentiality may be an important value that may conflict with the right to know. Step 4. Specify the alternative courses of action. Step 5. Evaluate the courses of action specified in step 4 in terms of their consistency with the values identified in step 3. This step may or may not lead to a suggested course of action. Step 6. Identify the consequences of each possible course of action. If step 5 does not provide a course of action, assess the consequences of each possible course of action for all of the stakeholders involved. Step 7. Make your decision and take any indicated action. Page 16
  17. 17. ETHICS IN ACCONTING CONCLUSION Ethical behavior is difficult for any researcher to measure and analyze, especially in real-life situations. Results are often imprecise due to the challenges inherent in quantifying what is ethical and what is not. Much of the work done is theoretical, and involves either creating or applying ethics models. To draw conclusions from ethics research, due to the many variables involved, researchers must rely on judgment and assumptions as they study an individual‘s actions, reactions and reasoning for the individual‘s behavior. Nonetheless, the conclusions drawn and models proposed in ethics research provide valuable insights into ethical behavior, and it is an important area of academic research. Page 17