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The Development of a Measure of Auditors’ Virtue

Research paper by T. Libby, L. Thorne

Indexed on: 03 Nov '06Published on: 03 Nov '06Published in: Journal of Business Ethics



Abstract

Auditors’ virtue comprises those qualities of character that manifest the ideals of the audit community (c.f., Maclntyre, 1984, After Virtue. (University of Notre Dame Press, Notre Dame)), and are instrumental in ensuring that auditors’ professional judgment is exercised according to a high moral standard (Thorne, 1998, Research on Accounting Ethics. (JAI Press, Greenwich, CT)). Nevertheless, the lack of valid and reliable quantitative measures of auditors’ virtue impedes research that furthers our understanding of how best to promote virtue in the audit community. To address this gap, we develop two measures of auditors’ virtue. We report the results of the validity and reliability of the scales. In addition, we use the findings from the administration of these scales to professional accountants to refine and validate the theoretical characterization of virtues developed by Pincoffs (1986, Quandaries and Virtues. University Press of Kansas, Lawrence, KS) and Libby and Thorne (2004, Business Ethics Quarterly). In so doing, this study provides a foundation by which future audit research can study ways to ensure that auditors’ virtue is promoted throughout the audit community.