Musbah, Ahmed, Cowton, Christopher J. and Tyfa, David (2016) The Role of Individual Variables, Organizational Variables and Moral Intensity Dimensions in Libyan Management Accountants’ Ethical Decision Making. Journal of Business Ethics, 134 (3). pp. 335-358. ISSN 0167-4544

This study investigates the association of a broad set of variables with the ethical decision making of management accountants in Libya. Adopting a cross-sectional methodology, a questionnaire including four different ethical scenarios was used to gather data from 229 participants. For each scenario, ethical decision making was examined in terms of the recognition, judgment and intention stages of Rest’s model. A significant relationship was found between ethical recognition and ethical judgment and also between ethical judgment and ethical intention, but ethical recognition did not significantly predict ethical intention—thus providing support for Rest’s model. Organizational variables, age and educational level yielded few significant results. The lack of significance for codes of ethics might reflect their relative lack of development in Libya, in which case Libyan companies should pay attention to their content and how they are supported, especially in the light of the under-development of the accounting profession in Libya. Few significant results were also found for gender, but where they were found, males showed more ethical characteristics than females. This unusual result reinforces the dangers of gender stereotyping in business. Personal moral philosophy and moral intensity dimensions were generally found to be significant predictors of the three stages of ethical decision making studied. One implication of this is to give more attention to ethics in accounting education, making the connections between accounting practice and (in Libya) Islam. Overall, this study not only adds to the available empirical evidence on factors affecting ethical decision making, notably examining three stages of Rest’s model, but also offers rare insights into the ethical views of practising management accountants and provides a benchmark for future studies of ethical decision making in Muslim majority countries and other parts of the developing world.

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