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Wayne G. Bremser, Villanova University, wayne.bremser@villanova.edu
James L. Moorestaker, Villanova University, James.Moorestaker@villanova.edu
Time for a Decision
In the following case a new auditor feels under pressure to report time that does not exceed a highstretch
budget, even if the audit task takes more time than budgeted. It provides an opportunity for
students to make a decision with ethical dimensions. Students also can debate whether the cultural
setting makes a difference. It also reviews some budgeting concepts.
I. Situation
After graduating as an accounting major from a large university, Ryan was excited to start his
career at Moore & Associates CPAs, an international professional services firm. The firm has
offices in eight countries and offers assurance, tax and consulting services. Ryan had made an
intense effort to get his job in a time of economic uncertainty and high unemployment. He knew
that it would be an important first step in his career, and looked forward to gaining valuable
experience. After a week of orientation and training, he was sent to the firm’s largest audit client
in New York City.
It was a sunny Monday morning in January 2019, and his first assignment was to audit the Cash
Account. He liked his immediate supervisor Merissa Lind, and at first, things went well. However,
at the end of the week, he started to notice some strange rumblings amongst the staff. Word was
that the client had demanded a 15 percent fee cut from all their vendors, including their auditor.
On Monday afternoon (the sixth day of the audit), Merissa called him to her desk. Merissa said,
“The audit partner has cut my time budget by 15 percent. This puts considerable pressure on our
audit team. I had given you a time budget for cash of 160 hours, which was the amount of time
required in the prior year. I am counting on you to get the job done in 136 hours.”
Ryan tried to be as efficient as possible while auditing the cash account, but he also wanted to be
thorough and not miss any discrepancies. By Wednesday afternoon, he concluded that it was
unrealistic to do less work than last year and maintain audit effectiveness.
He discussed his view with Merissa at 4:30 PM on Wednesday. In responding, Merissa seemed
sympathetic. She said, “I can see your point. However, our performance evaluations will be based
on staying within the bounds of the revised time budgets. I want you to get the job done in 136
hours.” Ryan interpreted this message as do not report more than 136 hours.
Wayne G. Bremser, Villanova University, wayne.bremser@villanova.edu
James L. Moorestaker, Villanova University, James.Moorestaker@villanova.edu

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II. Time for a Decision
Ryan worked until 8:30 PM on Wednesday. He did not get paid for overtime. Ryan had planned
to spend two or three hours studying for the CPA exam, but he was too tired. Also, he was worried.
Ryan’s views on the time budget had not changed. He realized that he had to decide what to do by
Thursday morning.
Ryan is concerned that he will not be able to confirm the cash balances with all of the banks and
finish the cash audit program without going over budget. Should he bring this to the attention of
Merissa again? Or, should he go over her head and talk to the audit manager, who may also be
focused on promotion to partner and concerned with audit time budget as well? Ryan does not
want to get Merissa, or him, in trouble.
III. Required
1. Why do firms use time budgets? What is a high-stretch budget?
2. Identify at least three alternatives that Ryan should consider. Discuss the alternatives and
factors that Ryan should consider in making his decision. In your discussion, give
consideration to using an ethics model. Examples of ethics models or guidance are listed
in Appendices A and B.
3. What should Ryan do? Explain why the alternative that you selected was preferable to the
4. Would your decision be influenced if Ryan’s discussions with some staff accountants who
were hired last year reveled that underreporting time was a common practice in the firm.
According to the grapevine, some partners underreported time.
5. Would your analysis (including consideration of cultural factors) and decision be different
if Ryan was an expatriate working at an audit firm in:
a. Berlin Germany?
b. Shanghai, China?
The Geert Hofstede™ Cultural Dimensions model (see Appendix C) may be helpful.
Case Appendices
Appendix A
Professional Association Ethics Guidance: AICPA Code of Professional Conduct
Wayne G. Bremser, Villanova University, wayne.bremser@villanova.edu
James L. Moorestaker, Villanova University, James.Moorestaker@villanova.edu
Appendix B
Traditional Ethics Stakeholder Models
In ethics decisions, any individual or group that may be impacted has a stake in the outcome.
Thus, alternative actions should be evaluated from a number of perspectives:
What stakeholder rights are being violated?
Is there an overriding duty to any stakeholders?
Will an alternative benefit any stakeholder to the detriment of another stakeholder? If a possible
detriment to a stakeholder is a concern, should this be remedied? If so, what modification of
alternative would provide relief?
Utilitarian Model
The utilitarian believes that the morally correct course of action is one that brings about the greatest
good for the greatest number of people.
Golden Rule Model
An action is morally appropriate if it treats all stakeholders with the same respect and dignity one
would expect from others.
Kantian Model
An action is morally correct if those impacted by any decisions are respected as free and rational
individuals. An action is morally correct if it minimizes the violation of the rights of all
stakeholders. Important considerations are:
Free consent
Freedom of conscience
Freedom of speech
Due process
Enlightened Self-Interest Model
An action is morally correct if it maximizes benefits for the individual in a way that does not
arbitrarily hurt others and attempts to minimize any harm that ensues, when possible. An action is
morally correct if it maximizes benefits for the stakeholders in a way that attempts to minimize
harm to other stakeholders.
Wayne G. Bremser, Villanova University, wayne.bremser@villanova.edu
James L. Moorestaker, Villanova University, James.Moorestaker@villanova.edu
Appendix C
Hofstede™ Cultural Dimensions model
The Geert Hofstede™ Cultural Dimensions model is widely cited (Hofstede, 1980, 2001).
Hofstede’s five cultural dimensions are summarized as: Power
Distance Index-degree of inequality in society
Individualism- self-sufficient vs. Collectivism (loyalty)
Masculinity- distribution of gender roles> male [assertive] vs. female [modest and caring]
Uncertainty Avoidance Index- tolerance for uncertainty and ambiguity> degree of comfort
in unstructured situations
Long-term Orientation- perseverance and thrift vs. short term (tradition, social obligations,
protecting face)
Hofstede’s five cultural dimensions and data on various countries are available to students at:
Geert Hofstede, Culture’s Consequences: International Differences in Work-Related Values.
Beverly Hills CA: Sage Publications, 1980
Geert Hofstede, Culture’s Consequences: Comparing Values, Behaviors, Institutions and
Organizations Across Nations. 2nd Edition, Thousand Oaks CA: Sage Publications, 2001
Wayne G. Bremser, Villanova University, wayne.bremser@villanova.edu
James L. Moorestaker, Villanova University, James.Moorestaker@villanova.edu

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