From 1999–2002, companies, the stock markets, audit firms, the accounting profession, and federal regulators were shaken with near‐daily revelations in the form of earnings restatements or confessions of financial instability by firms that had been certified as ongoing entities. A guilty plea by one auditor and the criminal conviction of his audit firm have resulted in statutory reform, new policies on financial reporting, and stricter regulatory requirements for audit firms. When all the reform dust settles, however, and the new statutes, regulations, and rules are implemented, auditors and those who educate them will still be left with the same question: why were auditors willing to allow the types of financial reports and reporting decisions that produced fundamentally unfair and inaccurate portraits of the companies they were auditing? The answer to this question requires exploration of ethics education in both business schools and schools of accountancy. While there are voids in that training, there are also seminal works that could be used to help future accountants and auditors understand the dilemmas they will face and how to resolve such dilemmas. These voids are explored through a review of the literature in business ethics with accompanying suggestions for future direction for research. More importantly, this review offers a suggested list and discussion of the key works all accounting students should study as part of a degree program in order to inculcate in them a strong sense of ethics as a professional.

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