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In: Business and Management

Submitted By Aliccee
Words 15928
Pages 64
FROM GREAT TO GHASTLY: HOW TOXIC ORGANIZATIONAL CULTURES POISON COMPANIES THE RISE AND FALL OF ENRON, WORLDCOM, HEALTHSOUTH, AND TYCO INTERNATIONAL David R. Lease, Norwich University Abstract This paper presents an analytical and comparative study of four recent corporate scandals involving organizations that had previously been recognized as both ethically and organizationally sound. Based on these case studies, the following issues are discussed: (1) The role of leader behavior and organizational/leadership styles in shaping the corporate organizational culture of an organization, and (2) The extent to which this culture renders the organization and its members (including the top executives) prone to ethical misbehavior. The four companies selected for this case analysis are: Enron Corporation, WorldCom, Inc., Tyco International, Ltd., and HealthSouth Corporation. Each case is considered individually. The basic elements in the scandal are outlined and the principal aspects of each organization’s corporate culture discussed, with special emphasis on the influence of leadership styles and leadership behavior/practices on organizational culture. The four cases are then compared and contrasted in the light of the existing evidence on the relation between corporate culture and ethical misbehavior. PRELUDE “We were doing something special. Magical. It wasn’t a job – it was a mission. We were changing the world. We were doing God’s work.” – Jeffrey Skilling, former Enron COO, President and CEO in the immediate aftermath of Enron’s bankruptcy filing* “I don’t want to just be rich. I want to be World Class rich!” – Kenneth Lay, former Chair & CEO, Enron Corporation** “I’ve thought about this a lot, and all that matters is money.” – Jeffrey Skilling, explaining his theory of motivation to another Enron manager***1

INTRODUCTION In the mid-1990s, when Chief Executive...

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