ABSTRACT

The purpose of this paper is to investigate certified public accountants' (CPAs) perceptions of their ethical environments. More specifically, we compare the perceptions of CPAs in (1) public accounting firms to those in industry, and (2) perceptions of CPAs at Big 4 public accounting firms to those at non-Big 4 firms. The ethical environment is one component of overall organizational culture and is important for encouraging ethical decision making. Based on responses from 904 CPAs, we find CPAs working at public accounting firms perceive their ethical environments as significantly stronger than CPAs in industry (and other nonpublic accounting work settings). Additionally, within public accounting, CPAs at Big 4 firms perceive their ethical environments as significantly stronger than those working at non-Big 4 accounting firms. Implications for research and practice are discussed.

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