Commercialism or Professionalism among Auditing Leaders


At the beginning of the century, major accounting scandals such as Enron led to decreased public confidence in the accounting profession. The tarnished reputation the profession suffered led to legislation in the form of the Sarbanes Oxley Act of 2002. This Act took away some of the profession's ability to self-regulate. In his speech to the 2003 Annual Meeting of the American Accounting Association, Arthur Wyatt (2003) states, "the current challenge of firm leaders has to be to gain an understanding of how current culture evolved and how best to eliminate the damaging commercial initiatives and restore proper, and expected, degree of professionalism." Wyatt also claims that the accounting profession's leaders have neglected their responsibility to the public relating to standard setting. Dr. James C. Gaa (2004) agreed that the profession did not act responsibly in terms of balancing its commercial needs with its professional obligations. This project tests these claims. Against the conceptual background of the sociology of professions, this project tests the claims made by Wyatt and Gaa that the profession did not act responsibly. More specifically, this study looks at the interests that the leading accounting firms protected in relation to the development of the controversial Statement of Financial Accounting Standard No. 123, Accounting for Stock-based Compensation. The research for this project is a rhetorical analysis examining the comment letters from the leading accounting firms regarding the 1993 stock-based compensation exposure draft and the comment letters regarding the revised stock-based compensation exposure draft of 2004. The analysis uses a qualitative coding scheme that is derived from research on the professions. The test reveals interesting results that are consistent with some of the claims of the previously mentioned authors with respect to commercialism and professionalism among auditing leaders.


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Thesis Completion





Dwyer, Peggy


Bachelor of Science (B.S.)


College of Business Administration

Degree Program



Business Administration -- Dissertations, Academic; Dissertations, Academic -- Business Administration; Accountants -- Professional ethics; Accounting; Auditors -- Professional ethics







Access Status

Open Access

Length of Campus-only Access


Document Type

Honors in the Major Thesis

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