Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Business Administration (DBA)


School of Business

First Advisor

Dr. David Tucker, Ph.D.

Second Advisor

Dr. Chengping Zhang, Ph.D.


Ethics plays a significant role in the field of public accounting. When lapses in ethical judgment lead to high-profile business failures, such as the fall of Enron and Arthur Andersen, tens of thousands of individuals can be negatively affected. From lost jobs to lost investments, significant harm can stem from ethical failures of public accountants. Over time, such shortcomings have resulted in calls for reform in the public accounting arena. Considered the safeguards of reliable public information, public accountants often take the blame, rightfully or not, for such events and are called upon to prevent future failures. With an increase in ethical attitudes as a goal, accounting faculty in higher education are often tasked with incorporating more and more effective ethics content into the curriculum of accounting students. However, it is unknown if the ethical attitudes of accounting faculty differ from public accountants. If not, why should people expect accounting faculty to mold more ethical future public accountants if accounting faculty believe public accountants' current ethical beliefs are sufficient? This study sought to investigate possible ethical attitude differences between public accountants and accounting faculty in higher education. A survey instrument was provided to these two groups that measured ethical attitudes by inquiring about the acceptability of ethical dilemmas. Potential differences were explored in the answers of these two groups, as well as differences and correlations based on other collected demographic data. Noteworthy findings include a lack of differences between how acceptable the ethical dilemmas were to public accountants and accounting faculty, a lack of differences in how acceptable the ethical dilemmas were to licensed CPAs and unlicensed individuals, and a small but significant negative correlation in responses based on age (older individuals found the ethical dilemmas less acceptable than younger individuals).