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Financial industry at the crossroads between current practices and ethical virtues

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Ethical and psychological approach to high quality financial reports

Ewa Wanda Maruszewska
Faculty of Finance and Insurance, Department of International Accounting - University of Economics in KAtowice

Sabina Kolodziej
Economic Psychology Chair - Kozminski University

Although accountancy profession is based on conceptual frameworks describing accounting standards and ethics, last financial scandals showed that this is not sufficient in order to ensure success in accounting. Despite accounting standards, psychological factors exist that determine ethical decision-making process. The aim of the article is to stress the importance of accountancy as a public service and to highlight the crucial role of human factor in the process of preparing financial reports that are to serve as a main source of information for market players in market-based economies. The article is based on analysis of accounting and psychological literature combining developmental and cognitive approach referring to the ethical decision-making process. Accountants’ decision-making process that includes moral aspects is analyzed in the light of Kohlberg theory of moral development and Rest model of moral reasoning. These theories emphasize the role of external ethical standards and social acceptance in developing and implementing ethical and lawful behaviors. Therefore, authors highlight the complexity of human behavior, being the result of individuals’ features and situational variables.


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Key words
financial reporting, Kohlberg, decision-making, accounting ethics

Maruszewska E.W., Kolodziej S. 2015, “Ethical and psychological approach to high quality financial reports” in Boitan I., Barbu T. (Eds.) Financial industry at the crossroads between current practices and ethical virtues (Studies in Philosophy, Law and Economics), Sumy: Taadler Publishing House, LTD, pp. 21-38. Available at

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