IMA offers ethics case writing competition

The Institute of Management Accountants is holding its annual ethics case writing competition for accounting and finance academics and practitioners.

The Carl Menconi Ethics Case Writing Competition is an annual program from the IMA that’s accepting applications through Jan. 26, 2019. The goal is to develop and distribute teaching cases focused on business ethics. Winners of the competition will be featured in the IMA’s Strategic Finance publication, and they will receive registration and recognition at the IMA’s 2019 Annual Conference & Expo along with a cash prize of $500. Submissions need to focus on business ethics, with specific application to management accounting and finance issues, and reference the IMA’s Statement of Ethical Professional Practice. Details on applying for the competition are available here.

“Folks might think of it [ethics] as something that’s only relevant to public accounting, but it’s crucial in management accounting as well,” said IMA vice president of research and policy Raef Lawson, who is also and professor in residence there. “IMA has a whole range of initiatives focused on promoting ethical behavior in our profession.”

He noted that the IMA recently reissued a revised Management Accounting Competency Framework, with the addition of a competency domain focused on professional ethics. For the case-writing competition, the issue is not only how to teach ethics in the classroom, but also how management accountants can address ethics in the workforce.

“It’s not something they can just turn on,” said Lawson. “They really need exposure to resolve ethical issues while they’re in school. To help provide resources to faculty to address this topic with their students, we sponsor several case competitions. An important one of those is the Menconi Ethics Case Writing Competition. That’s a competition where faculty submit a teaching case in the area of ethics. The winning case is published in our flagship publication, Strategic Finance, and faculty really look forward to these cases to help bring real-world ethical issues into their classroom.”

Schools have been taking various approaches to educating students in business ethics. “Ethics can be taught in a variety of ways in the curriculum,” said Lawson. “Many schools have a business ethics course, or an ethics in society course. But I think it’s a preferable approach to integrate ethics throughout their curriculum. Any accounting course, whether it’s auditing or financial reporting or cost accounting, has an ethical dimension. It’s useful for faculty to include an assignment or a case study on ethics related to the topic they are teaching.”

The IMA is not only doing research on business ethics, but also on cybersecurity. Lawson wrote a report in 2016, Cybersecurity: Fighting Crime's Enfant Terrible, discussing why financial professionals need to play a leading role in a defense strategy. The research can still prove useful in helping safeguard against data breaches such as the one disclosed in late November by Marriott International in the reservation database for its Starwood hotel properties.

“It’s an issue that’s becoming more and more critical for organizations,” said Lawson. “No company is immune, and in this digital age where they say data is the new gold or the new oil, companies really need to treat their data like it is gold or oil and make sure it’s secure. Companies need to make sure they have enhanced security procedures and protocols in place to avoid these kind of data breaches that Marriot and Starwood just exemplified.”

According to Lawson’s research, CFOs should create reasonable estimates of financial impact that potential breaches will cause, as well as work with other members of the C-suite to properly define the company’s risk management strategy, and help the business establish priorities for valuable digital resources.

Institute of Management Accountants headquarters in Montvale, N.J.

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