Book Review: Ethical Issues in Accounting – Edited by Catherine Gowthorpe and John Blake

Ethical Issues in Accounting – Edited by Catherine Gowthorpe and John Blake

This book is concisely written. It has a number of contributors and a large list of references. Although first written in 1998, the issues are highly relevant today and provide valuable insights into ethical issues in the profession.

It covers all the critical aspects of the subject – creative accounting, whistleblowing, the ethics of tax practitioners, the role (and shortcomings) of the professional bodies in ethical issues, auditors and moral issues, self-regulation vs. independent regulation, public service (and the tensions and conflicts of interest with management there), the environment and corporate social reporting.

There are interesting (and shocking) insights from the authors’ own experiences at work, and the lack of power to be able to speak up against unethical practices. There is critism of the partisanship of professional bodies. There is also critism of their role as guardians of accounting and auditing ethics, suggesting that these bodies themselves routinely compromise their own ethical position. Balancing arguments are also presented, suggesting that the radical critics’ views are sometimes overstated and misrepresented.

Overall, it has been a fascinating read for me. I am very impressed with how the crux of issues and debates are packed into this very informative little book (under 200 pages). I learnt and became aware of a lot through reading it. Some if it, I have to admit, was a little above my head because of the academic approach to the discussions in places, but I would be tempted to read it again to get round this, given its usefulness.

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