The changing face of ethics: Developing a code of ethics for professional accountants from 1977 to 2006

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TY - JOUR

T1 - The changing face of ethics

T2 - Accounting History

AU - Sonnerfeldt, Amanda

AU - Loft, Anne

PY - 2018/11

Y1 - 2018/11

N2 - This article aims to contextualise the development of the Code of Ethics for Professional Accountants by the International Federation of Accountants (IFAC) between 1977 and 2006. Drawing on transnational regulation literature, an extensive review of archival documents was conducted. The analysis unfolds the development of the Code in an increasingly complex regulatory environment, revealing the dynamic forces and sequence of events that influenced its nature and contents over three distinctive periods. This study reveals that the shifts in IFAC’s priorities in pursuit of its global aspirations created mechanisms that allowed transnational accounting firms and international regulators to influence the priorities of the Ethics Committee. The Committee’s efforts to legitimise and secure endorsement of the Code were constrained by its initial work programme to develop a model code through minimum harmonisation. Later, the Committee redirected its focus towards meeting the needs of the international regulators by adding more rule-based guidance within the principle-based Code and heavily prioritising independence.

AB - This article aims to contextualise the development of the Code of Ethics for Professional Accountants by the International Federation of Accountants (IFAC) between 1977 and 2006. Drawing on transnational regulation literature, an extensive review of archival documents was conducted. The analysis unfolds the development of the Code in an increasingly complex regulatory environment, revealing the dynamic forces and sequence of events that influenced its nature and contents over three distinctive periods. This study reveals that the shifts in IFAC’s priorities in pursuit of its global aspirations created mechanisms that allowed transnational accounting firms and international regulators to influence the priorities of the Ethics Committee. The Committee’s efforts to legitimise and secure endorsement of the Code were constrained by its initial work programme to develop a model code through minimum harmonisation. Later, the Committee redirected its focus towards meeting the needs of the international regulators by adding more rule-based guidance within the principle-based Code and heavily prioritising independence.

KW - accounting history

KW - standard setting

KW - transnational regulation

KW - code of ethics

KW - International Federation of Accountants

U2 - 10.1177/1032373217751219

DO - 10.1177/1032373217751219

M3 - Article

VL - 23

SP - 521

EP - 540

JO - Accounting History

JF - Accounting History

SN - 1032-3732

IS - 4

ER -