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Excellence, Success, and the Protective Function of Common Grace in Accounting

Jason Stansbury, Marilyn Stansbury, Debra Snyder


The sustainability of the accounting profession depends on both internal goods (excellences) and external goods (successes) supported by the practices and institutions of accounting. While both types of goods matter, a virtuous organization must hold them in tension. Failure to do so risks violating the public trust and damaging accountants integrity. The accounting professions management of this MacIntyrean tension exemplifies the protective function of common grace. Accounting helps to protect business from the effects of sin (e.g., negligence, opportunism, and malfeasance), as well as to enable business to meet human needs through both meaningful employment and goods and services that enable human flourishing. Professionalism mitigates accountings vulnerability to the same sins. This analysis contributes to a MacIntyrean theory of organizational virtue specific to accounting ethics. It also contributes to a Reformed Christian understanding of business by highlighting practices in the accounting profession that exemplify Gods common grace and commending those practices for greater attention.

Jason Stansbury, Marilyn Stansbury, and Debra Snyder, "Excellence, Success, and the Protective Function of Common Grace in Accounting," Journal of Markets & Morality (Spring 2015): 119-138

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