Letters to the Editor

Ethics Cannot Be Taught

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My answer to the question posed by the article “Accounting Ethics Courses: Do They Work?” by David F. Bean and Richard A. Bernardi (January 2007) is: No! As the Good Book says, “The heart [of man] is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked.” Therefore, no amount of ethics training will preclude illegal and unethical behavior.

The authors state that no ethics courses can guarantee ethical behavior. So would those not taking courses on ethics be more susceptible to illegal acts or unethical behavior? I think not. If laws and professional consequences are not deterrents to illegal and unethical actions, how can a few CPE hours each year be? Note the latest accounting scandal, on the backdating of stock options, after all we have been through the last few years.

Ethics and morals cannot be taught or legislated; they are innate, or at least cultivated through the socialization each person experiences during the formative years.

John A. Howard, CIA, CPA
Palm Beach, Fla.

Blurred Distinctions: A Good Thing

Editor-in-Chief Mary-Jo Kranacher’s February editorial, “The Great Divide: Academia and Practice,” gave me some food for thought. Although many professionals teach in academia and maintain accounting practices, I believe that I might be one of the few whose academic research interests directly support my business development activities (and vice versa).

I am currently experiencing the impact of the 150-hour requirement at Suffolk University in Boston, and I previously experienced it a few years ago when I taught and earned my PhD at the University of Connecticut. In my opinion, one significant issue is the total blurring of any distinctions between university courses, CPE sessions, and on-the-job training activities during the period when young professionals are completing their 150 hours, studying for the CPA exam, and learning their professional responsibilities.

I believe that this “blurring” is a good thing, because it helps break down the barriers between academia and practice that the editorial addressed. Suffolk, the University of Connecticut, and other universities in states that have already experienced the 150-hour requirement have developed innovative approaches to merging these two worlds. I’d be delighted to discuss their experiences.

Michael Kraten, PhD, CPA
Founder and President, Enterprise Management Corp.,
Milford, Conn.;
Assistant Professor, Suffolk University, Boston, Mass.

Heavy Lifting Required

The February editorial “The Great Divide: Academia and Practice” nailed it. CPA practitioners possessing cutting-edge accounting knowledge and superb communication skills are now “unqualified” for full-time positions in accounting academia or are being relegated to a second-class “clinical professor” role. Unfortunately, this is the direction in which we are headed; in fact, the train has left the station.

What is the underlying purpose of a PhD program in accounting? Is it to help shape dynamic accounting educators? I think we know the “real” answer to that question: In recent years, the purpose of a PhD program in accounting has been to create full-time accounting researchers. Success in the classroom is not a requirement. The ability to teach effectively is an added bonus, but in today’s environment it is not necessary to be successful. The model is clearly broken.
I would be happy to assist in any way I can with this endeavor. The project will certainly require some heavy lifting.

James M. Fornaro, CPA, CMA




















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