Ethical positionings in the self-reflective accounts of professional accountants

Authors

  • Alan Jones Macquarie University
  • Samantha Sin Macquarie University

DOI:

https://doi.org/10.1558/japl.36881

Keywords:

account analysis, accounting profession, discursive strategies, ethical dilemmas, ethical practice, positioning, professional identity

Abstract

Ethical aspects of professional practice are increasingly the focus of attention and scholarly investigation, nowhere more so than in the field of financial accounting. In this paper we examine how three experienced accountants responded to a query about the ethics of everyday accounting practice. From a corpus of 18 interviews, we chose three "accounts" representing three disparate ethical positions. The interviewees developed their positions tentatively and incrementally, and each employed a distinctive range of rhetorical and discursive strategies. They had time to reflect on the topic in question, i.e. to reflect while actually speaking and to reflect on and react to what they had said so far. And they had time to consider the consequences of each impromptu formulation for their public identity as ethically responsible, trustworthy professionals as well as for their inner self-conceptions as ethical and moral agents. Our findings suggest that ethical self-understandings evolve over time, as individual agents react to the challenges or dilemmas they happen to confront, and that that process may well be accelerated through the activity of account giving - a process that simultaneously illuminates the impersonal corporate forces that organise our society.

Author Biographies

Alan Jones, Macquarie University

Alan Jones is an Adjunct Professor in the Linguistics Department at Macquarie University and Associate Professor in the Department of Anthropology at the Australian National University. He gained a PhD in Linguistics in 1994 from the Australian National University, and has worked extensively with Austronesian languages of Papua New Guinea. Since 2000, while based at Macquarie University, he has taught, researched and co-published in the areas of academic, disciplinary and professional communication. Address for correspondence: 8 Maranoa St., Canberra, ACT 2617, Australia. Email: alan.jones@mq.edu.au

Samantha Sin, Macquarie University

Samantha Sin is a Senior Lecturer in the Faculty of Business and Economics at Macquarie University. She holds a PhD in Higher Education from Macquarie University and a PhD in Adult and Professional Education from Linköping University. Her research specialisation is integrating generic and professional skills development with the core accounting curriculum and assessments. She has authored and co-authored numerous research papers in the fields of accounting, adult education and applied linguistics. Address for correspondence: Department of Accounting and Corporate Governance, Macquarie University, North Ryde, NSW 2109, Australia. Email: Samantha.sin@mq.edu.au

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Published

2018-12-31

How to Cite

Jones, A., & Sin, S. (2018). Ethical positionings in the self-reflective accounts of professional accountants. Journal of Applied Linguistics and Professional Practice, 13(1-3), 145-166. https://doi.org/10.1558/japl.36881

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