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Who's in Control?: On the relationship between locus of control and the influence of unethical authority

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The goal of this study was to explore the relationship between locus of control and the influence of an unethical authority figure. This research is a preliminary, exploratory study given research design limits. It was hypothesized that subjects oriented towards

The goal of this study was to explore the relationship between locus of control and the influence of an unethical authority figure. This research is a preliminary, exploratory study given research design limits. It was hypothesized that subjects oriented towards internal locus of control are better able to resist pressure from an unethical authority figure. Subjects oriented towards the powerful others and chance orientations were hypothesized to be less able to resist pressure from an unethical authority figure. The results found that the presence of an unethical authority figure had little to no influence on self-perceived unethical decision-making; the difference in unethical behavior between cases with an authority figure present and without one present was not statistically significant. Further, no support was found for the hypotheses as no statistically significant relationship between locus of control orientations and the difference between the control case and test case was found (R2 = 0.02, model P-value > 0.05). Further analysis confirmed the results of Detert et al. (2008), finding no relationship between survey subjects’ locus of control orientations and unethical decision-making. Additional analysis indicates a relationship between unethical decision-making and gender (B = -5.14, P = 0.03, P < 0.05), providing some interesting avenues for future research.

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2020-05

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An Analysis of SEC Clawback Provisions in terms of Loss-Aversion and Narcissism

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Executive compensation is broken into two parts: one fixed and one variable. The fixed component of executive compensation is the annual salary and the variable components are performance-based incentives. Clawback provisions of executive compensation are designed to require executives to

Executive compensation is broken into two parts: one fixed and one variable. The fixed component of executive compensation is the annual salary and the variable components are performance-based incentives. Clawback provisions of executive compensation are designed to require executives to return performance-based, variable compensation that was erroneously awarded in the year of a misstatement. This research shows the need for the use of a new clawback provision that combines aspects of the two currently in regulation. In our current federal regulation, there are two clawback provisions in play: Section 304 of Sarbanes-Oxley and section 954 of The Dodd\u2014Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act. This paper argues for the use of an optimal clawback provision that combines aspects of both the current SOX provision and the Dodd-Frank provision, by integrating the principles of loss aversion and narcissism. These two factors are important to consider when designing a clawback provision, as it is generally accepted that average individuals are loss averse and executives are becoming increasingly narcissistic. Therefore, when attempting to mitigate the risk of a leader keeping erroneously awarded executive compensation, the decision making factors of narcissism and loss aversion must be taken into account. Additionally, this paper predicts how compensation structures will shift post-implementation. Through a survey analyzing the level of both loss- aversion and narcissism in respondents, the research question justifies the principle that people are loss averse and that a subset of the population show narcissistic tendencies. Both loss aversion and narcissism drove the results to suggest there are benefits to both clawback provisions and that a new provision that combines elements of both is most beneficial in mitigating the risk of executives receiving erroneously awarded compensation. I concluded the most optimal clawback provision is mandatory for all public companies (Dodd-Frank), targets all executives (Dodd-Frank), and requires the recuperation of the entire bonus, not just that which was in excess of what should have been received (SOX).

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2018-12

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Blockchain: What is it and What Does it Mean for Public Accountants?

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Blockchain is a sophisticated and complex technology that will have a massive impact on the public accounting industry. Currently there is concern surrounding how blockchain may impact the industry as a whole. Auditors and accountants are worried that this technology

Blockchain is a sophisticated and complex technology that will have a massive impact on the public accounting industry. Currently there is concern surrounding how blockchain may impact the industry as a whole. Auditors and accountants are worried that this technology has the potential to replace the responsibilities they fulfill. However, blockchain technology will not replace accountants and will enhance their daily activities by eliminating menial tasks, providing increased transparency, and allowing time to be spent in areas that require more consideration. This will change the role of accountants and professionals, requiring them to be more technologically proficient and analytically minded. This paper is organized as follows. There will be an initial explanation of the technology to inform the reader of what blockchain is and how it works. Then there will be a discussion regarding how blockchain technology relates to, and can be utilized by, public accounting firms as well as the implications of blockchain on the public accounting industry. These implications will be discussed followed by why they are extraneous, and how to combat them in both the assurance and advisory practices. In conclusion, recommendations will be provided for public accounting firms on how to effectively utilize the technology to their benefit.

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2018-12

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Motivation Crowding Theory and Its Limits

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This paper consists of a literature review, wherein four papers surrounding Motivation Crowding Theory (MCT) were read and analyzed. The paper then goes into an analysis of a survey I conducted. The survey consisted of three main questions with three

This paper consists of a literature review, wherein four papers surrounding Motivation Crowding Theory (MCT) were read and analyzed. The paper then goes into an analysis of a survey I conducted. The survey consisted of three main questions with three sub-questions for each, and all attempted to find a "limit" to MCT. However, results for the survey were ultimately inconclusive. The paper concludes with lessons learned in conducting research and surveys in particular, as well as a nod to the relevancy of MCT in business and personal applications.

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2020-05

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Introversion and Success in Public Accounting

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This thesis analyzes the connection between introversion and success in public accounting by looking at traits introverts need to develop in order to do well in this field. The paper begins by giving a background on both public accounting and

This thesis analyzes the connection between introversion and success in public accounting by looking at traits introverts need to develop in order to do well in this field. The paper begins by giving a background on both public accounting and introversion and why the relationship between these two needs to be studied. It discusses how introversion is not the norm in business, but how the traits outlined in the paper give introverts a strong opportunity for success. The first trait looked at is one-on-one skills and how the ability to communicate well in small groups helps introverts in public accounting to build solid relationships with their clients and coworkers. Next, the paper talks about public speaking and how introverts need to lean into their ability to prepare thoroughly in order to avoid speaking anxiety, which likely plagues them. After that, the paper looks at networking and how an introvert's ability to create deep connections outweighs some natural setbacks they may face in this endeavor. The final trait analyzed is creativity and how introverts possess a unique aptitude in this area because of the differences in how they think and process information. For public accounting, this is a useful skill, especially when it comes to problem solving. The last section of this thesis examines the importance of self-awareness for introverts to understand themselves and be understood by others while working on teams. The conclusion of this paper outlines the main ideas on how introverts can succeed in public accounting by leaning into these traits, owning who they are, and contributing from their unique perspective.

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2017-12

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The Unintended Consequences of Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002

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Given its impact on the accounting profession and public corporations, Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002(SOX) is a widely researched regulation among accounting scholars. Research typically focuses on the impact it has had on corporations, executives and auditors, however, there is limited

Given its impact on the accounting profession and public corporations, Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002(SOX) is a widely researched regulation among accounting scholars. Research typically focuses on the impact it has had on corporations, executives and auditors, however, there is limited research that illustrates the impact SOX may have on average Americans. There were several US criminal code sections that resulted from the passing of SOX. Statute 1519, which is often referred to as the "anti-shredding provision", penalizes anyone who "knowingly alters, destroys, mutilates, conceals, covers up, falsifies, or makes a false entry in any record, document, or tangible object with the intent to" obstruct a current or foreseeable federal investigation. This statute, although intended to punish behavior similar to that which occurred in the early 2000s by corporations and auditors, has been used to charge people beyond its original intent. Several issues with the crafting of the statute cause its broad application and some litigation even reached the Supreme Court due to its vague wording. Not only is the statute being applied beyond the intent, there are other issues that legal scholars have critiqued it for. This statute is far from being the only law facing these issues as the same issues and critiques are found in the 14th amendment. Rewriting the statute seems to be the most effective way to address the concerns of judges, lawyers and defendants regarding the statute. In addition, Congress could have passed this statute outside of SOX to avoid being seen as overreaching if obstruction of justice related to documents was actually an issue outside of corporate fraud.

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2016-12

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Scandal: An Ethics Game on the Importance of Accurate GAAP and FASB Reporting for Public Corporations

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Financial statements are one of the most important, if not the most important, documents for investors. These statements are prepared quarterly and yearly by the company accounting department, and are then audited in detail by a large external accounting firm.

Financial statements are one of the most important, if not the most important, documents for investors. These statements are prepared quarterly and yearly by the company accounting department, and are then audited in detail by a large external accounting firm. Investors use these documents to determine the value of the company, and trust that the company was truthful in its statements, and the auditing firm correctly audited the company's financial statements for any mistakes in their books and balances. Mistakes on a company's financial statements can be costly. However, financial fraud on the statements can be outright disastrous. Penalties for accounting fraud can include individual lifetime prison sentences, as well as company fines for billions of dollars. As students in the accounting major, it is our responsibility to ensure that financial statements are accurate and truthful to protect ourselves, other stakeholders, and the companies we work for. This ethics game takes the stories of Enron, WorldCom, and Lehman Brothers and uses them to help students identify financial fraud and how it can be prevented, as well as the consequences behind unethical decisions in financial reporting. The Enron scandal involved CEO Kenneth Lay and his predecessor Jeffery Skilling hiding losses in their financial statements with the help of their auditing firm, Arthur Andersen. Enron collapsed in 2002, and Lay was sentenced to 45 years in prison with his conspirator Skilling sentenced to 24 years in prison. In the WorldCom scandal, CEO Bernard "Bernie" Ebbers booked line costs as capital expenses (overstating WorldCom's assets), and created fraudulent accounts to inflate revenue and WorldCom's profit. Ebbers was sentenced to 25 years in prison and lost his title as WorldCom's Chief Executive Officer. Lehman Brothers took advantage of a loophole in accounting procedure Repo 105, that let the firm hide $50 billion in profits. No one at Lehman Brothers was sentenced to jail since the transaction was technically considered legal, but Lehman was the largest investment bank to fail and the only large financial institution that was not bailed out by the U.S. government.

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2016-05

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The Olympus Scandal (Accounting Fraud)

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The Olympus case gives students an opportunity to analyze the factors and unique cultural environment that led to the accounting fraud in whistle blower Michael Woodford's perspective. It also provides students insights into a traditionally- structured Japanese company to identify

The Olympus case gives students an opportunity to analyze the factors and unique cultural environment that led to the accounting fraud in whistle blower Michael Woodford's perspective. It also provides students insights into a traditionally- structured Japanese company to identify the operation style and leadership distinctions from a U.S. structured company. The case is presented from the comprehensive public record and the book How I Went from CEO to Whistleblower, written by Michael Woodford, all surrounding the Olympus fraud and insider whistleblowing. A primary question that arose when the news of the fraud emerged in the media was: Did the accounting fraud solely result from the failure of Japanese executives' leadership style? Some people think that the Olympus president Tsuyoshi Kikukawa who owned ultimate power over the company is supposed to bear the most responsibility for this issue. However, this case argues that the answer to the previous question is no. What's more important than the corrupt executives is Olympus' operational system that indulged those executives' ambition. Therefore, the case focuses on an analysis of the operating system in regard to leadership, culture, internal controls, external controls and the board of directors. This analysis addresses the failure of Olympus comprehensively rather than placing blame on a single individual. It is an opportunity for students to understand and discuss the multiple aspects of a corporate system that should have the practicable controls and functions to prevent the abuse of decision-making power as well as the illegal activity from occurring.

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2016-12

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Anchoring and motivated reasoning in managers' review of accounting estimates

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Accounting estimates are developed in a bottom-up fashion; subordinates generate estimates that are reviewed by managers. The anchoring heuristic suggests managers may be highly influenced by subordinates’ initial estimates. However, motivated reasoning theory predicts that reporting incentives will bias managers’

Accounting estimates are developed in a bottom-up fashion; subordinates generate estimates that are reviewed by managers. The anchoring heuristic suggests managers may be highly influenced by subordinates’ initial estimates. However, motivated reasoning theory predicts that reporting incentives will bias managers’ review in favor of estimates that are incentive consistent, and managers will selectively attend to information that supports their preferred conclusion, including their perceptions of the subordinate. Using experimental methods I manipulate the consistency of the subordinate estimate with management reporting incentives, and the narcissistic description of the subordinate. Consistent with motivated reasoning theory, I find that managers anchor on incentive consistent subordinate estimates, regardless of subordinate narcissism, but anchor less on incentive inconsistent subordinate estimates, especially when the estimate comes from a narcissistic subordinate. I also find evidence that managers believe narcissistic subordinates act strategically in their own self-interest, and selectively attend to this belief to adjust away from incentive inconsistent subordinate estimates, but not incentive consistent subordinate estimate. My results reveal two potential weaknesses in the management review process: susceptibility to subordinate anchors, and bias created by reporting incentives.

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2016