Ethical climate, goal interdependence, and commitment among Asian auditors

William E. SHAFER, Margaret C. C. POON, Dean TJOSVOLD

Research output: Journal PublicationsJournal Article (refereed)peer-review

15 Citations (Scopus)


Purpose – The aim of this study is to examine the relations among organizational ethical climate, goal interdependence (cooperative vs competitive goals), and organizational and professional commitment among auditors in Asia. Design/methodology/approach – The authors conducted a field survey of 293 auditors employed in two offices of an international accounting firm: one in Hong Kong and one in Singapore. Findings – Structural equation analyses indicate that instrumental ethical climates that focus on the pursuit of self-interest and firm profitability promote more competitive and less cooperative goals among auditors. Benevolent/cosmopolitan (public interest) climates appear to enhance cooperative goals among employees. Cooperative goals in turn were associated with increased affective and normative organizational and professional commitments. Competitive environments significantly reduced affective and normative organizational commitment as well as affective professional commitment. Compared with their Hong Kong counterparts, Singaporean auditors perceived the ethical climate in their firm to be more positive or supportive of ethical values, and also felt the work environment in the firm was more cooperative and less competitive. In addition, the Singaporean auditors exhibited somewhat higher levels of emotional attachment to both their firm and the public accounting profession. Originality/value – No prior accounting study has examined the influence of cooperative/competitive goals on work outcomes in a public accounting setting, or the role of ethical climates as potential antecedents of such goals. The results of the current study indicate that the development of cooperative and competitive goals is significantly related to the perceived ethical climate in public accounting firms, and that such goals may have significant effects on employee commitment not only to their organization but also to their profession. The significant differences between auditors in Hong Kong and Singapore have not previously been documented, and raise questions for future research.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)217-244
Number of pages28
JournalManagerial Auditing Journal
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2013

Bibliographical note

The authors acknowledge the financial support of the Research and Postgraduate Studies Committee of Lingnan University, Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, China.


  • Auditing
  • Auditors
  • Competitive goals
  • Cooperative goals
  • Ethical climate
  • Hong Kong
  • Organizational commitment
  • Professional commitment
  • Singapore


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