A Fresh Look at Accounting Ethics (or Dr. Smith Goes to Washington)

4 Pages Posted: 31 May 2006 Last revised: 4 May 2014

See all articles by Murphy Smith

Murphy Smith

Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi-Department of Accounting


This article (editorial) proposes actions to be taken by educators and practitioners in providing ethical direction to the accounting profession. In the wake of corporate scandals and a shaky stock market, Congress passed legislation that established a new board to oversee auditors of publicly traded companies and increased prison sentences for fraud. This article is based on the author's opening statement to the U.S. House of Representatives Subcommittee on Commerce, Trade, and Consumer Protection, Friday, July 26, 2002. At the Congressional Hearing, Truett Cathy, founder of Chick-Fil-A, quoted Proverbs 22:1, which says: A good name is more desirable than great riches; to be esteemed is better than silver or gold. The truth is that living an honorable life really is more satisfying than fame and fortune. The accounting professional must be skilled at implementing moral judgments so that he or she can consider the welfare of those affected by his or her actions. The ultimate measure of success is not fame and fortune, but moral character and personal integrity. The leadership of the accounting profession has a responsibility to inculcate in practitioners and students ethical behavior and personal integrity. Rules and regulations of government cannot preserve a free and ethical society whose people lack integrity.

Keywords: ethics, accounting, public policy, Sarbanes-Oxley Act

JEL Classification: M00

Suggested Citation

Smith, Murphy, A Fresh Look at Accounting Ethics (or Dr. Smith Goes to Washington). Accounting Horizons, 17(1): 47-49, March 2003, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=905142

Murphy Smith (Contact Author)

Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi-Department of Accounting ( email )

6300 Ocean Dr
Corpus Christi, TX 78412
United States

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