Business and Professional Ethics Journal

Volume 42, Issue 3, Fall 2023

Regina F. Bento, Lourdes F. White
Pages 315-357

Artificial Intelligence and Ethical Professional Judgments in a Small Audit Firm Context

The recent availability of affordable Artificial Intelligence (AI) for auditing has enabled small audit firms to experiment with this disruptive innovation. This paper goes beyond the literature’s traditional focus on the Big Four accounting firms, to present two studies that explored ethical professional judgments in the use of AI in this new organizational context, crucial for the global economy. Study 1 was a qualitative investigation of a small audit firm near Washington DC, one of the earliest adopters of MindBridge Ai Auditor, the world’s first off-the-self, affordable AI-powered auditing platform. Drawing from Study 1 insights, we developed a two-part scenario that was used for a survey in Study 2, a quantitative investigation involving sixty-eight accounting professionals and 176 students. The findings from both studies have relevant theoretical and practical implications for how AI may impact professionalism / commercialism tensions in small audit firms.