Document Type


Article Version


Publication Date



This paper compares the moral reasoning of 363 auditors from Canada and the United States. We investigate whether national institutional context is associated with differences in auditors'' moral reasoning by examining three components of auditors'' moral decision process: (1) moral development, which describes cognitive moral capability, (2) prescriptive reasoning of how a realistic accounting dilemma ought to be resolved and, (3) deliberative reasoning of how a realistic accounting dilemma will be resolved. Not surprisingly, it appears that institutional factors are more likely to be associated with auditors'' deliberative reasoning than their prescriptive reasoning in both countries. Additionally, our findings suggest that the national institutional context found in the United States, which has a tougher regulatory and more litigious environment, appears to better encourage auditors to deliberate according to what they perceive is "the ideal" judgment as compared to the Canadian context. We then discuss the implications of these findings for regulators and for ethics research.


This is a post-print of an article published in Journal of Business Ethics. The original publication is available at

Publication Title

Journal of Business Ethics

Published Citation

Thorne, Linda, Dawn W. Massey, and Michel Magnan. 2004. Institutional context and auditors' moral reasoning: A Canada-US comparison. Journal of Business Ethics 43 (4), 305-321.



Peer Reviewed