While these conflicts of interest are very real, they note that we often dismiss them as unimportant, or having no effect. This is because we believe that these professions and professionals adhere to a strong system of ethical standards. But, according to the authors, such conflict of interest situations do have a very marked effect. Thus they suggest a theory of “moral seduction” which allows most professionals to accept conflict of interest as inevitable and harmless. In addition, they cite Kunda (1990) and argue that people are naturally self-serving. Furthermore, auditors work within a framework of incentive and accountability – the authors cite Bazerman, Morgan & Lowenstein, 1997 – and hence are just as susceptible to subjectivity and bias as any other professionals.
3. The argument of the writers convincingly states that both on an in individual, psychological, and cognitive level, and on a broader social, and political level, conflicts of interest have come to be taken very lightly. Therefore, even if someone wants to bring about reform, and stop dishonest, biased practice within the auditing industry, he/she would face many difficulties. Changing mindsets about conflict of interest within society generally would be required, not just change among auditors.
4. The authors refer to Moore & Lowenstein (2004) to suggest that corporate ethics changed from what is morally right to what is technically legal. Restated, they claim that a set of values-based beliefs – about honest reporting, accountability, and accuracy – were replaced by a less morally- based approach. Auditors were able to justify any inaccuracy, or even misrepresentation of financial information, by finding legal loopholes. So, where the necessity existed for misreporting, auditors would find a way to justify that misrepresentation in the law, an external system, rather