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Corporate idiots

Corporate idiots

by Rick Turoczy on January 23, 2005

Mark it down. This year could be a memorable one for the depth and breadth of corporate malfeasance on the docket. Consider what we have to look forward to – a hall of fame lineup of alleged corporate rogues.

W. Michael Hoffman, the director of the Center of Business Ethics at Bentley College in Waltham, Mass., tells me that the main figures in current and upcoming corporate scandal trials – L. Dennis Kozlowski, Bernie Ebbers and Kenneth Lay – would all be “first vote members of the business hall of shame” for the amount of losses to shareholders and workers and the sheer audacity of their alleged con games.

I talked to Hoffman recently because he was one of the first academics in the country to secure a government grant to start studies in business ethics.

That was in the 1970s when the concept of business ethics was unrefined.

“The joke used to be summed up by a Wall Street Journal headline I remember from the early 1970s. ‘Business ethics is an oxymoron,’” Hoffman said.

One wonders what Kozlowski of Tyco, Ebbers of WorldCom and Lay of Enron think about business ethics. The three will all face a jury of their peers who could possibly not take kindly to either their alleged crimes nor their so-called “idiot” defenses.

Corporate idiots

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