Social and ethical responsibility: conflicts of interest in professional accounting

Cindy Davids, Gordon Boyce

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


Persons who occupy positions of power or authority often find themselves in conflict of interest situations, where official duties and private interests overlap, but do not coincide. If private interests are pursued in such circumstances, this may be at the expense of the dereliction of official duties, and a failure to heed the interests of the constituency whom officials ostensibly serve. In accountancy, conflicts of interest may be manifested in various ways. This paper focuses on conflicts on interest in relation to the accounting profession, considering problems that arise in relation to conflicts on interest between three sets of interests: (i) various dimensions of the private interests of the accounting firms and their partners and members; (ii) the private interests of corporations for whom the accountants work (and their various constituents, including managers); and (iii) a wider group of interests, including those of the society whom accountants and auditors, as professionals, profess to serve. A fundamental clash that is brought to attention by the particular notion of conflict of interest is between narrow sectional or private interests and the wider social responsibilities of both accounting professionals and corporate players. This paper seeks to develop a clear understanding of the nature and dimensions of the problem of conflict of interest in relation to the professional practise of accountancy. The fundamental clash between wider social responsibilities and the private interests of key players in both realms, typified by conflicts of interest, is a key dimension of the current crises of ethics in business and accounting.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationSocial responsibility in India
Place of PublicationUK
PublisherSocial Responsibility Research Network (SRRNet)
Number of pages9
ISBN (Print)0955157706
Publication statusPublished - 2005


  • accounting
  • ethics
  • social responsibility
  • conflict of interest
  • accounting professionals


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