The Impact Of Accounting Scandals On Accounting Students

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Steven R. Jackson

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Abstract

At no other time in the history of the accounting profession has there been such an impact to the financial reporting function within the capital market structure. The institutions responsible for the financial reporting function are reeling from the fallout of these financial-reporting scandals. “Reports on the collapse of Enron, the bankruptcy of WorldCom, and a growing list of failures and near failures have exposed massive manipulations of financial reporting by management, inexplicable breakdowns in the independent audit process, astonishing revelations of holes in our financial-reporting standards and practices, and studding lapses of corporate governance”. (Sutton, 2002). As Sutton also points out, in this environment, investors and the public have become increasingly skeptical about a system that seems to be out of control.  The impact on perceptions of the investing public must also include students studying business and more specifically students studying accounting. This study uses a questionnaire developed by Gramling, et.al. (1996) to study the perceptions of auditing students before and after the above mentioned financial-reporting scandals. Students in two auditing classes, one before the scandals and one after, were given the questionnaire at the beginning of their auditing course. The results show a significant change in student perceptions concerning audit expectation issues after the scandals, but before they studied auditing. 

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