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Fences as Controls to Reduce Accountants’ Rationalization


  • Alan Reinstein

    () (Wayne State University)

  • Eileen Z. Taylor

    () (North Carolina State University)


Abstract Occupational fraud frequently involves the direct or indirect participation of professional accountants (PA). To reduce fraud, companies often focus on the incentive/pressure and opportunity legs of the fraud triangle, perhaps believing that rationalization is beyond their control. We argue that rationalization reduction is necessary to minimize occupational fraud. We propose that educators and PA consider incorporating fences as controls to reduce rationalization. Because they focus on compliance and risk avoidance and are non-negotiable, fences appeal to accountant’s Myers Briggs personalities and conventional level of moral development. Educators can teach students about the fences used in practice, and explain how they help new professionals resist pressures and temptations. By adding fences to existing professional guidance, accountants can reduce the likelihood that they will be a party to fraud.

Suggested Citation

  • Alan Reinstein & Eileen Z. Taylor, 2017. "Fences as Controls to Reduce Accountants’ Rationalization," Journal of Business Ethics, Springer, vol. 141(3), pages 477-488, March.
  • Handle: RePEc:kap:jbuset:v:141:y:2017:i:3:d:10.1007_s10551-015-2701-6
    DOI: 10.1007/s10551-015-2701-6

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    References listed on IDEAS

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