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South African Journal of Economic and Management Sciences

On-line version ISSN 2222-3436

Abstract

JOOSTE, Leonie. S. Afr. j. econ. manag. sci. [online]. 2011, vol.14, n.4, pp. 422-435. ISSN 2222-3436.

In 1990, Bruns and Merchant (1990) surveyed earnings management practices and asked the readership of the Harvard Business Review to rate the acceptability of those practices. Prior to the Bruns and Merchant (1990) study, the morality of short-term earnings management was of little concern to researchers and accounting practitioners. However, in the light of increased financial frauds and failures, new and increased emphasis has been placed on the importance of the concepts of earnings quality and earnings management practices. Despite increased research focusing on business ethics since 1990, there is little evidence that business schools and the profession are educating accountants about earnings management practices. Therefore, this study, similar to other studies, continues to use the Bruns and Merchant survey and compares the results of studies on students and business managers on earnings management practices. Students and business managers were surveyed at the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University (NMMU) and these results were compared to four studies prior to the Sarbanes-Oxley Act 2002 in the US. The expectation will be of changes in attitudes towards earnings management since the financial scandals and passing the Act. Therefore, the aim of the study is to determine if there have been changes in attitudes towards earnings management practices. No surveys using the Bruns and Merchant (1990) questionnaire are available in SA. Therefore, the study in SA was compared to available studies in the US.

Keywords : Bruns and Merchant study; business managers; business schools; earnings management; ethics; students.

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